Biz Tips

3 Ways Holding Back Your Truth is Messing Up Your Creative Business

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I’ve been so scared of manifesting.

Not the activity itself but of talking about it.

I’ve been manifesting for years, but I’m often reluctant to use the actual word in my content.

[If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out this post from Amanda Frances about manifesting. She’s one of the people I admire and I’m heading to Bali in a few days for a retreat she’s hosting.]

All my private clients have heard about it or discussed it with me. Yet I’ve had this reluctance to claim it.

I’ve always worked hard to maintain a specific narrative around myself. I’ve held my cards close to my chest in the hopes it would somehow keep me safe.

I guess it has to some extent that I’m still here and doing well. But it’s unclear if it’s more helped or hindered beyond that.

As I’ve started creating more content, I reflected on the fact that I haven’t shared my full truth with my audience. I vowed to start sharing more  because I realized that not doing so would hold a business back in three big ways.


1 | IT KEEPS YOUR FROM CONNECTING WITH YOUR SOULMATE CLIENTS

When you don’t share your truth in your content it makes it harder to find your soulmate clients. You create a barrier they have to see past and connect with your heart. And those are the best clients. The ones that connect with your heart.

It’s the same as with people in real life. If you’re not real. If you don’t show them who you are, then they can’t connect with who you are.  They’re connecting only on the surface or with a facade.

People may appreciate what they see on the surface enough to buy from you. In fact it is possible to still make good money without sharing fully. But you’re going to limit yourself.

Especially as a coach or if you’re charging higher prices for your work. Or any other service or product where someone anticipates a transformation.

If someone is making a big investment they’re going to need to feel your energy. More so than for a lower priced investment.

People buy from the heart. We all make our decision about purchasing something through our emotions first. We then use or reason and logic to justify whichever decision we’ve made. It’s when they feel the emotional connection to YOU that you become the person who must provide it. Without that, they’re in need of the product or service. They may not have been able to feel that you’re the right person to support them through it.

Early in my business, it would happen that someone wouldn’t be familiar with coaching. They would come across me and my work. They would be curious about getting coaching support and schedule a consult. We’d have a call and they would end the conversation committed to invest in coaching.

But not committed to working with me.

As you can imagine, this was frustrating and confusing. It hurt knowing that someone wanted something that I offered but not wanting it from me.

It’s because I wasn’t speaking my truth. I wasn’t being real enough and showing enough of who I am to stand out and resonate on a deeper level.

Even in my business, I’ve been telling a story of inferiority and struggle.  I’m ready to release it.


2 | IT DIMINISHES THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF YOUR BUSINESS

For the heart-centered creative women I meet — they’ve created their businesses...

... not only to make money
...but also to have freedom, and flexibility
...and also because they want to do work that is meaningful and purposeful.

That was one of the things I was eager about when I started my business. Working as a lawyer, as I was before, is important work. And noble. And valuable work. But I was struggling to find meaning and purpose in it.

When you’re sharing what’s real for you, speaking from you heart, your work is going to be more meaningful. Because your marketing and messaging can have impact outside of you.


3 | IT KEEPS YOUR FROM STEPPING INTO THE FULLNESS OF YOUR POTENTIAL AS A BUSINESS OWNER

You’re going to serve and grow your audience best when you’re sharing from your heart. When you share your truth you’re offering a unique perspective that only you can share. It’s one of the things that can  allow you to set yourself apart from anyone else who might provide a service like you.

Sharing in this way is what allows you to become not just a service provider, but an actual leader.

The creatives and entrepreneurs I meet aren’t just doing a job. They’re walking into their calling. They have a desire to serve people in the highest way they can. Without being open about your truth, you can’t do that.

There needs to be a willingness to claim space. To be bold and proud of who we are and what our business represent. I know what a challenge this can.

I was a shy child. I have a strong need to stay quiet and slide under the radar. That felt important to me and I took that on as a sort of defense mechanism. Now as an adult, it can be challenging to accept that I no longer need to keep myself safe in that way.

If you haven’t been able to connect with your ideal clients as powerfully as you know as possible, some things you might consider are:

  • Write out your businesses values and display them on your website

  • Write out what your business believes

  • On your work with me page on your website, be clear and super specific about who your ideal clients are

  • Do a series of blogs, videos, or livestreams about what your business believes

  • Open up about something you’ve been holding  back on

Yes, it can feel frightening to share more of ourselves. But we open ourselves up for more abundance, flow, creativity, and leadership when we do.

I’ll be over here cheering for you!

Xx,
Crystal

4 P’s for Greater Productivity

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One of our biggest enemies as creative entrepreneurs is procrastination. Procrastination is a powerful trap that many of us fall into. Most people procrastinate to some extent at one time or another. But as regular habit it can be demotivating and lead to feeling of guilt and shame. Moreover, it can keep us from achieving our goals.

Procrastination is a habit. And like any bad habit, there are tools, tricks, and other habits that can replace it.

As an entrepreneur, it can feel particularly difficult to overcome procrastination.  There’s often minimal external deadlines and limitations. Plus, building a business is a long game.

There’s a human tendency to overestimate a reward based on its proximity. This video from AsapSCIENCE has an animated video demonstrating this further:

The sooner in time you get the reward, the more valuable it seems. Also known as temporal discounting. Plus, “human motivation is  influenced by how imminent the reward is perceived to be. The further away the reward is, the more you discount its value. This is often referred to as Present bias, or hyperbolic discounting.”


Pomodoro Sprints

Pomodoro sprints are a powerful procrastination overcoming tool.

Created by Francesco Cirillo while a university student. He was struggling to study for his exams. He had a lot of distractions and  and minimal mental focus and concentration. He decided to focus without interruption, distractions, or mind wandering for 10 minutes. He used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian).

Even  the 10 minutes of uninterrupted focus made a difference.

Pomodoro sprints were born.

It’s a fancy way of saying 2 hour blocks of time with 25 minute work segments and 5 minute breaks.

A full Pomodoro sprint would be:

25 minutes work
5 minutes break
25 minutes work
5 minute break
25 minutes work
5 minute break
25 minutes work
25 minute break

See? Simple.

Nonetheless, this simple technique works well.

All you have to decide is how many sprints you’ll accomplish in a day. If your goal is to get eight hours of work done, then you would plan to complete a series of four pomodoro sprints.

The idea is that when we chunk our days like that, we can work for longer periods of uninterrupted time. This allows us to enter a flow state and operate at our peak performance level.

During each Pomodoro sprint, you’re only working on one project. You’re taking on that project without any distractions or interruptions. You’re creating an ideal environment for you to get a lot done, even in a short block of time.

This is ideal especially for moms and side-hustlers. With focused chunks of time, you’re able to get more done than doing many hours of distracted work.

This is because if you’re focusing on too many things at once, you lose time due to context switching.

When we’re working and we switch to think about something else. Whether its a different task we’re going to work on or checking our phone or email. It takes time for our brain to “recover.” To get back into the flow of what we were previously doing.

Each time we do this, we lose our precious time.

The more we do this in any given period, the more our productive time has diminished.

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Related: 8 Small Shifts to Reach Your Goals Faster

Pomodoro sprints end the time suck of context switching. They force us to give our undivided attention to the task at hand for these short chunks of time.

A few tips for using Pomodoro sprints:

  • If you’re like most millennials, your phone is a hard distraction to ignore. When doing Pomodoro sprints, better if your phone is out of sight and on silent.

  • If there is anyone who needs to reach you or who would disturb you, let them know in advance that all is well. But you can’t be disturbed in the next two hours.

  • Decide what you’re going to do before you start the timer for that first sprint. Don’t let planning seep into the time that you’re meant to be taking action.

  • If your phone is not too distracting, there’s an app called Focus available in the Apple store. It has the timers pre-set for Pomodoro sprints. If it’ll be too tempting to check your phone if you use an app (be honest!) then use a regular timer.

  • Check yourself. At the end of your sprint did you do what you wanted to do? Did you do a good job staying on track? Where could you use improvement?

  • Keep your breaks phone free. I’ve found that the only time I can’t get back in the flow after one of my 5 minute breaks is when I used it for scrolling social media. Now I do my best to stay off my phone even during the 5 minute breaks.


Parkinson’s Law

Another related productivity is Parkinson’s law. Parkinson’s law says that work will expand to fill the time available for its completion.

Why does this matter?

Well, my friend. The more you can estimate how long a project will take, the better you’ll be at planning out your days, weeks, and months. You’ll get more done.

If you allow a week for a two hour task, then the task will become more complex, difficult, and daunting. It will take up the whole week. Even if you’re not doing  actual work that whole time, stress, worry, and tension about doing it will fill space. When we can assess the time a task will takes, we get our time back. The task will maintain its natural state. There won't unnecessary complexity, difficulty, stress, tensions, worry, and complexity.

Overestimating or underestimating how long these take you to do lowers your productivity. Most people lack awareness of how long tasks take until they’re willing to apply this principle.

There’s a pervasive and limiting belief that if something takes longer, its better. It’s higher quality. Most people adopt the idea that it’s better to “work harder, not smarter,” even when they work for themselves.

It’s important to check yourself as you use Pomodoro sprints. You’ll start to become more and more aware of how long various tasks take you.

For example, I know that I can write a 2,000 word blog in about one hour IF it’s not a research based blog. Then it takes me another 60-90 minutes to do any research and edit.  But, if I give myself a four hour block to write a 2,000 word blog, I’ll use that entire period of time. Instead, I give myself one Pomodoro sprint to complete my writing. Then that’s all it takes.

Tips for applying Parkinson’s Law

  • Keep track of how long certain activities take you. Especially the ones you do repeatedly in our businesses. Most people overestimate or underestimate how long something should take.

  • Make it a game for yourself. When you’re assigning time estimates for tasks, trying cutting the time in half. Then treat it as a hard and fast deadline that you have to beat. Don’t do this at the expense of quality work, but try infusing some urgency into your work and see what happens.

  • Time your time-filling activities that don’t have an impact. Things like email and feed reading that “takes a few minutes.” Limit those times to 2-5 minutes. Don't get sucked into those activities.


Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle was first established by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He  used it as a math formula to describe the unequal wealth distribution in his country. He observed that 20% of the population owned 80% of the country’s wealth.

In 1937 Joseph Duran added a human dimension. He conceptualized the Pareto principle. He used the 80/20 rule to help managers to separate the vital few from the useful many in their activities.

This is also referred to as the 80/20 rule.

So how can we use it to be more productive?

By narrowing our focus. 80% of our results are going to come from 20% of our actions, so we can cut some of those actions that are less meaningful. The ones that aren’t going to translate into results.

Far too many creative entrepreneurs stay busy. But busy isn't always activities that are going to have an impact in their business.

Tips for applying the Pareto Principle

  • Instead of doing more and diffusing your impact. Do fewer activities and devote your time and energy there. On doing the things that matter most and do them well.

  • Where do 80% of your leads come from? Nurture those sources. Where is 80% of your revenue generated? Boost your efforts there? Do 20% of your clients create the majority of cash flow in your biz? Nurture and cherish them.


Going Pro

Last, but not least, to be more productive, be a professional.

Too many people treat their businesses like amateurs. Like an expensive hobby instead of a business.

This is from Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art.

He describes going pro as the way of overcoming resistance. Creators and entrepreneurs will experience resistance at one point or another. The way of moving past is to be a professional, rather than giving into it.

The characteristics of a professional are:

  1. W show up every day.

  2. We show up no  matter what.

  3. We stay on the job all day.

  4. We are committed over the long haul.

  5. The stakes for us are high and real.

  6. We accept remuneration for our labor.

  7. We do not over identify with our jobs.

  8. We master the technique of our jobs.

  9. We have a sense of humor about our jobs.

  10. We receive praise or blame in the real world.

Tips for going pro:

  • Set regular hours for yourself even if you work for yourself. On the days that I’m working I’m at my desk at 9am and ready to work. Same as if I had to show up at an office. Showing up this way allows me to take way more time off when I want. For example, I never work Fridays. I travel almost once a month and for the most part I treat my traveling as vacation and do little, if any work.

  • Get dressed. Or at least shower. I find that I show up in a different way when I shower and get dressed. Like I actually have to interact with other humans in person. It makes it feel more like an actual work day even though going to the office is going down the hall.

4 Small Tips to Become a Great Coach

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I received an email from a lovely woman in my community who had invested in a coach training program and was’t feeling confident in her skills as a coach. She asked a question that I’m sure many others have also wondered — how did you become a great coach.

I felt like she was expecting a deep complicated answer, but I told her what I really think it boiled down to:


1 | I hired a coach 1-on-1

If you ask 5 different people about this you’ll likely get 5 different responses, but here’s my thought on it: hiring a coach to work with 1-on-1 will accelerate your growth unlike any other thing you’ll do. Especially when you’re new in business.

Is it necessary for everyone?

Of course not.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t massive value for the people who do make the decision to invest in a coach to work with.

Nothing can beat the 1-on-1 interaction and feedback. Plus, it’s a different thing to learn about coaching and study coaching, than it is to be powerfully coached.

When I started my business I invested in a year long coach training program and 4 months with a private coach. They were roughly the same investment. I received 10x more value from working with someone 1-on-1.

There was nothing wrong with the training I went through, but I outgrew it way before the year was up. Working with a coach 1-on-1 however, was transformative for me.

Many people become coaches without ever having hired or worked with a coach before. Of course it’s going to feel confusing and overwhelming to start your business. It’s hard to get a clear idea of what powerful coaching looks like without experiencing it first hand.

Plus, if you truly believe in the value of coaching — which, if you’re a coach, I hope you do.

It’s just common sense that you would want to experience it for yourself.

Does this lead to some stereotypes that it’s all just a pyramid scheme? Coaches coaching coaches coaching coaches?

Yeah, maybe.

But, seriously. Who cares?

Therapists have therapists. Doctors have doctors. Teachers have teachers. And even if they didn’t. It doesn’t matter.

Do your beautiful work . Transform people’s lives.


2 | I started

I started coaching people before I felt ready.

Not to say I started charging people willy nilly and helping them without being at all qualified. I worked with A LOT of people without charging at all.

I simply practiced the skills that I’d been learning.

I had 100+ coaching conversations in 3 months just so I could gain that confidence.

Yes, your time and work are valuable and you should be compensated.

But not when you don’t have experience. When you don’t know how to best serve people. When you’re not confident in the transformation provide.

At that point. Anyone willing to be your guinea pig is helping you as much as you’re helping them.

Don’t let your ego keep you from becoming great at what you do.

Because once you are, your earning potential is only limited by the limits you place on it.


3| I continuously invested in my education

I am a learner.

And if you’re going to be a powerful coach, you’ll want to be one too.

Books, courses, retreats, seminars, etc. If you can’t afford to learn, your success will be limited. This doesn’t mean you have to drop thousands on courses and retreats. You can invest in lower end courses, free learning, and books.

Now. This has got to be counterbalanced with creation and productivity and turning within.

There are times for intensive learning. Coaching. Mentoring from others.

And there’s a time to just get out there and do the work. Share the message that’s true for you.

Don’t let learning become a crutch. Or a tool for procrastination or perfectionism.

Be willing to learn. Be willing to implement.


4 | I implemented what I learned

You have to get out there and do the work.

If you think you’re going to learn every single thing about any particular subject before you get started you’re going to get stuck.

As a recovering perfectionist, I’m well aware of this trap.

It can be challenging to subdue those thoughts telling me that I must do it perfectly.

Because if you don’t actually implement what you learn nothing will happen.

I was naturally inclined towards coaching. It's a profession that uses all of the skills and qualities that come most naturally to me. But I wasn’t nearly as powerful or confident a coach when I started as I am today.

There’s only so far that the studying of your art can get you. Eventually you have to get out there and apply it.

I had to coach other people.

I wasn’t sure about it when I started.

I felt nervous and scared and very afraid of messing up.

I had to learn how to create boundaries.

When a potential client was needed a referral for therapy rather coaching.

But I wouldn’t have been able become a great coach if I hadn’t started.

Of course I messed up. Of course I had clients that didn’t experience as much transformation as they wanted. Of course I wasn’t perfect.

But I did it and now I’m a powerful coach. I help clients shift in 15 minutes and after a few months together their whole lives have transformed.

If you’re working on growing your own coaching business, hit reply and let me know! I’d love to hear what you’re working on. If you’re not sure which activities you should be focusing on, be sure to take the Focus Formula quiz so you can get some clear direction.

I’ll be over here cheering for you!

Xx,
Crystal

8 Small Shifts to Reach Your Goals Faster

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I wouldn’t *exactly* call myself a patient person. I know few millennials who do. This impatience arises in my business ALL.THE.TIME.

I find myself wishing I were already there. Despite usually being able to focus on my work, I’m almost distracted in my drive to get the work done.

Basically, I suck the life and fun out of my own work. And I know I’m not alone in this. The times I’ve mentioned this aloud, there’s a chorus of “me-toos” and “I’m the sames” that echo.

Nonetheless, building a profitable and sustainable business is a long-game. Not an overnight scheme.

And…

When I really think about it. I have exhibited great patience in achieving many of my goals. As I’m sure you have to.

So while patience is a virtue. Today I want to give a few small shifts you can make to achieve your goals faster.


1 // Begin with the end in mind

This is basic, but somehow still often overlooked. If you want to truly perform at your best and see the greatest results in your business you have to start with the end in mind.

There’s a story recounted about Will Smith. Someone came into his home and saw that he had post its laid out all over one of the walls. When his visitor asked what he was doing he explained that he was working on a new movie project. He put all of the different elements of his project on different post its. All the characters, scenes, plots twists, etc.

His visitor responded, “that seems overwhelming. How do you even know where to start?”

Will replied, “oh no, that’s the easy part. Of course, I start with the end.”

Everything else is leading up to the end point, so you have to know where you want to go. Same as if you were taking a road trip. Before you can figure out anything else you’ve got to be clear on where you’re trying to end up.

Yet so many skip over this part. They just start working. Doing different tasks willy nilly and hoping that at one point they’ll all come together.

While this has undoubtedly worked for some. It’s not the best approach.

Start with the end in mind. Get a very clear picture of it in your mind.

In fact, the more clearly you can see where you’re going — what that outcome will look like. The better.

If you can hold a mental picture of what you want to create, you’ll open your mind up for imagination and creativity. For different and better solutions. For forces outside of you to support you in reaching your goals.


2 // Focus on the One Thing

If you want to reach your goals faster than focus on one thing at a time.

One of the most pervasive and lease empowering myths of our time is multitasking.

Multitasking is not a thing. It just isn’t.

In one my favorite books, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Pasan, the authors take it further by saying that multitasking is not only NOT a thing, but it’s a lie:

It’s a lie because nearly everyone accepts it as an effective thing to do. It’s become so mainstream that people actually think it’s something they should do, and do as often as possible. We not only hear talk about it, we even hear talk about getting better at it. More than six million webpages offer answers on how to do it, and career websites list “multitasking” as a skill for employers to target and for prospective hires to list as a strength. Some have gone so far as to be proud of their supposed skill and have adopted it as a way of life. But it’s actually a “way of life,” for the truth is multitasking is neither efficient nor effective. In the world of results, it will fail you every time.

We think that we can do it. But in truth, no person is a competent multitasker. If you’ve been priding yourself on multitasking...first of all, stop it right now. All it means is that you’re doing multiple things less effectively.

“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” — Steve Uzzell

Quitting multitasking cold turkey is the first step. But if you really want to super-charge your business results, than taking it a few steps further.

Narrow your focus. Ideally, to the one thing that will really get you what you want.

In The One Thing it’s defined through the question: what’s the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

We have become so entrenched in a world of doing multiple things that we’ve lost hold of the fact that to see the greatest results in the least amount of time, we must focus on the one thing that makes everything else easier.

This doesn’t mean you have to do one thing all day long and it’s the only thing that you do. But you do need to prioritize.

Prioritizing means putting the important things first. Assigning value to our tasks. Accepting that not all tasks have been created equally — which is most people’s default.

It doesn’t serve us, though.

We spend just as much time on the activities that are not high value. And that won’t move our business forward as we do on the things that are really and truly important.

If you’re not sure what you should be focusing on in your business then take the Focus Formula quiz. In just 11 questions it will let you know what’s really keeping you from seeing the results you want in your business.

With undivided focus we can accomplish our goals and move on to the next thing. It creates a domino effect so that we can continuously accomplish bigger and bigger goals.

For example, let’s say your vision is to have an online course for photographers

  • It opens up 2x per year

  • You enroll 75 students during each enrollment period

  • The course is fully created based off a mentoring curriculum you’ve already established

You have the material, you just need people to sell to. In this case, your one thing might be growing an engaged email list.

Related: How to Turn New Subscribers Into Raving Fans + Nurture Sequence Workbook

Once you know the one thing for you to focus on you’ll determine how to best approach it.

If we stick with the list building example, you might start by brainstorming all the possible ways for you to grow your email list by leading to a content upgrade.

  • Blogging

  • Guest blogging

  • Podcast interviews

  • Paid advertising

  • YouTube videos

  • Social media

  • Livestreaming

But keeping the principle of a narrow focus in mind, instead of doing all of these activities, focus on just one (maybe two). And then pursue that with focused commitment for a period of time and then evaluate your results.

Our sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) is so pervasive and strong that many of us are just scared to narrow our focus. We think if we focus in on one thing we’ll miss out on too much. That we won’t get the results we want. But in reality, the opposite is often true.


3 // Focus on the important and not urgent activities

To figure out if something might fall within an activity to focus on or not is to consider the Eisenhower matrix. Also known as priority matrix.

A priority matrix is just a way of considering whether something should be prioritized.

How do we determine this? Based on the level of importance and urgency of the activity.

Our natural inclination is to focus on activities that are urgent. Regardless of whether they are important. This is a big part of why our days run away with us.

If you’ve ever felt like your business is running you, instead of the other way around, there’s a good chance that you’re approaching the urgent activities of your day as top priorities.

The problem with prioritizing urgent activities in your week is that they’ll always be new and different urgent activities to focus on. The activities that are most critical to your businesses actual growth are going to fall into the category of important and not urgent.

Of course, urgent activities still should get done. But not at the expense of the non-urgent activities.

Easiest way to approach this? Plan your week with the activities in Quadrant 1 as the top priority. That was these activities get designated time on your calendar. If it’s scheduled it gets done.

Approach your day with the activities in Quadrant 2. That way, each day you do still deal with the activities that are important and urgent, without displacing those important and non urgent activities.

The things in quadrant 3 are those that are most easily outsourced. Outsource them if you can.

Things that are not important and not urgent. Just avoid doing them during the work day. They may have their time and place, it’s just not when you’re working.


4 // Be ok being out of balance

Balance, like multitasking, is one of those pervasive myths of our time. It’s not a state that one can achieve and its makes us miserable in the pursuit of it.

Rather than attempting balance, we should strive for counterbalance.

If you’re focusing on one thing than it’ll just be impossible for you to have your focus elsewhere simultaneously.

And that’s ok.

Instead, we can focus on the one thing. Accomplish the one thing. And then focus on the one thing that is now important.


5 // Re-visit your vision and goals daily

It's easy to lose sight of what we’re working towards. And as soon as the vision is out of sight, energy, motivation, and inspiration wane. Everything just starts to feel harder.

If you can keep your vision and goals front and center, your energy and motivation will naturally stay up. You can more easily note the progress that you’ve made. The vision will become more and more real until it actually is your reality.


6// Expect that you’ll achieve your goal

Positive expectation is one of the best states to be in to actually accomplish what you want.

We all know how powerful gratitude is. Studies and celebrities from Oprah to Mark Zuckerburg wax on about the power of gratitude. But we always want more. It’s part of the human experience that even as we achieve and receive, our desires expand.

I bet if I asked you to write down 25 things you want you could come up with a list pretty quickly.

In fact, why don’t you do that right now.

I’ll wait ;-)

Now, my question is: of those things that you wrote down, how many of them are things you already have?

My guess, is not that many. (But please do let me know if I’m wrong!)

And now you’re saying, “but Crystal, I was just following directions. That’s not what you said to do.”

I know, I know.

It’s a little tricky.  But there are many things that you now have that you may be deeply grateful for. But you may not have always had them. At some point it was something you wanted. And now you have it.

And here’s the thing. If I had given that exercise in a slightly different way by asking you to list 25 things you’re grateful for, there’s a good chance that none of the items you listed would be things you don’t yet have.

But we can make the things we want more real, and we can super-charge our gratitude, but conflating the two. Feeling gratitude for the things we desire but don’t yet have. And desiring the things present in our lives.


7 // Be a professional

When we set goals for ourselves it’s almost inevitable that we’ll experience resistance. Resistance is completely natural and experienced by all creators. We don’t need to eradicate resistance. But to create in spite of it.

In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art he describes moving past resistance by turning pro. Being a professional. The ideas is that amateurs given into resistance and professionals don’t. Our creative work need to be treated professionally — not something to be done when we feel like it and not done when we don’t feel like it.

The characteristics of a professional as described by Pressfield are:

  1. We show up every day.

  2. We show up no matter what.

  3. We stay on the job all day.

  4. We are committed over the long haul.

  5. The stakes are high and real.

  6. We accept remuneration for our labor.

  7. We do not over identify with our jobs.

  8. We master the technique of our jobs.

  9. We have a sense of humor about our jobs.

  10. We receive praise or blame in the real world.

Find a way to apply these concepts in a way that serves you.

For example, I’ve adopted a number of habits that help me turn pro. Things like:

  • Looking at my calendar and planning out my day in advance. Not in a rigid way but just in terms of looking at priorities. Figuring out my one thing for the day. And establishing the other 2 activities I will do IF I accomplish my one thing.

  • Not checking my emails until after I’ve done my first 2 hours of prioritized activities. I know my weaknesses and it’s just easier if I don’t even go through my phone first thing in the morning.

  • I get dressed and brush my hair and get myself at least a little presentable. Even though my office is in my home, I feel more ready to work when I’m dressed as if I at least had to go to a co-working space instead of staying in my PJs.


8 // Turn off your phone

If you want reach your goals faster, than turn off your phone. Or at the very least put it on do not disturb and out of sight.

Most millennials are addicted to their phones. In How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price addiction is described as,

Continuing to seek out something (for example, drugs or gambling), despite negative consequences. In his book The Brain that Changes Itself, Canadian psychiatrist Norman Doidge explains the general characteristics of addition like this: ‘Addicts show a loss of control of the activity, compulsively seek it out despite negative consequences, develop tolerance so that they need higher and higher levels of stimulation for satisfaction, and experience withdrawal if they can’t consummate the act.” That certainly would seem to describe the way many of us feel about our smartphones. And indeed, many technology companies themselves seem comfortable with that term….many of the same feel-good brain chemicals and reward loops that drive addictions are also released and activated when we check our phones.

And for good reason. Smartphones and the apps on them are designed to hook us in.

Price continues to explain:

Not only are phone and app companies aware of their products; neurological effects, but they pack their products with features that will trigger them — with the explicit goal of getting us to spend as much time and attention as possible on our devices. In industry terms, this is caller “user engagement.” ...In order to maximize the amount of time we spend on our devices, designers manipulate our brain chemistry in ways that are known to trigger addictive behaviors….phones and most apps are deliberately designed without ‘stopping cues’ to alert us when we’ve had enough — which is why it's so easy to accidentally binge. On a certain level, we know what we’re doing makes us feel gross. But instead of stopping, our brains decide the solution is to seek more dopamine. We check our phones again, And again, And again.

Social media, especially become a near impossible tough spiral to hop out of.

Make things easier for yourself. You can’t get much done when you’re looking at your phone all day. Even just quick glances significantly impact our productivity because of context switching.

Context switching just means that our brains take time to switch between tasks. Each time you start to do something else, your brain takes time to adjust to that new task. The more we do it, the longer it takes for our brain to settle back into a productive state. The impact increases the more frequently we switch. You can see this through the chart below. Even when it’s referred to as a project, this can even just be checking your phone.

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Each time we take on an additional project we lose another 20% of our time to context switching, This is just loss of time as our brain tries to switch through the various tasks.

This quickly translates to loss of time. If we allow for even just 3 projects (or distractions) in a given hour, our productive minutes are already down to 36. That’s why hours go by and we can’t wrap our minds around how we could have possibly gotten so little done. Although you may have been at or around your desk for 3 hours attempting to work. Between checking your phone for email, a quick scroll through Insta, a few likes on Facebook and your 3 hours of work may have been more like 35 minutes.

This is really just circling back to the point that he more we can focus on the one thing — rather than trying to go back and forth between different activities, the closer we get to accomplishing our goals.

The idea with applying any of these ideas is to start small. You don’t need to implement everything at once but start applying these things little by little. You’ll quickly see how your small shifts turn into massive results.

I’ll be over here cheering for you!

5 Tips to Plan for Productivity Instead of Procrastination

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Have you ever used planning as a weapon?

Not a real weapon.
Obviously.
But as an excuse.
Which can harm...
...it stunts your growth, keeps you from moving forward and creating what you want.

Also known as procrastination.

But we don’t call it procrastination when it looks like planning.

Planning is productive. And powerful. And can be incredible.

But not when it’s actually procrastination.

And here’s why it’s dangerous.

It’s insidious. It’s difficult to tell when you’ve made the transition from planning,  which empowers. Planning helps you get the most out of your days, weeks, months, years, and life. And planning as an excuse so that you don’t have to take action.

‘Cause, if you’re anything like me, planning can be more fun (and less daunting) than taking massive action.

Yep, procrastinating is easier than implementing.

But…

The reward is short lived. When you put off tasks, guilt, worry, and self-doubt replace the inital pleasure. The goals you gently laid out drift further away.

One of the easiest ways to overcome this is learning to recognize…


WHEN PLANNING TURNS INTO PROCRASTINATION

For many small biz owners, planning is legitimate.

A great idea, in fact. When you take the time to plan out your days, weeks, months in advance you can ensure that:

  1. You know where you’re headed

  2. You know what steps to take

  3. You can avoid decision fatigue on a daily basis

The third is perhaps the most important of those reasons. We get tired. Sometimes when we have to make a decision we lean back on what feels easier which may be doing nothing. If you already know what you’re meant to do in a certain time period and you can just sit down and get to work on it.

Welp. That takes out some of the hardest stuff.

But you’ve got to learn the difference between planning and procrastinating.

Here are 5 tips to go from pointless procrastination to productive planning:

TIP #1 “IT’S NOT PRETTY ENOUGH” IS PROCRASTINATION

If you have a plan in place that could easily be followed and is ready to be implemented, then you have a plan. But you decide that it’s not “pretty enough.”

I mean this literally. That you have a plan but you want it to physically look more aesthetically pleasing.

If you’ve ever dealt with this, then you’re my people.

I totally get this and in our Pinterest-drunk-Instagram-obsessed millennial world, it’s almost inevitable that the fascination and urge for everything to be gorgeous would seep into our more practical tools.

It’s ok to like things to be pretty, but if you’ve got your plan in place and then…

...you decide that you need to recreate it in a fresh google sheets so the colors are on brand

...you realize it’s not as perfectly organized as it could possible be so you start from scratch

...you think it would be better in Trello, but you’ve never used Trello so you purchase a Trello course and binge watch it so you can move your plan over

Then you’ve gotta problem. A procrastination problem that you need to nip in the bud.

Your plan, strategy, roadmap, etc is meant to help you get to your goals. It doesn’t need to be a work of art. It needs to help you get your stuff done.


TIP #2 DON’T PLAN TOO FAR OUT

Having a vision for the next 3, 5, 10 years is perfectly lovely. And in some ways can be valuable. But if you’re turning a vision into a step-by-step action plan for the next 17 years, you’re overplanning.

All you need is a plan for the next year, with specific action steps and goals for the quarter ahead of you.

If you’re going further out than that you’re setting yourself up for frustration, burn-out, impatience, and lessened motivation. Your plan is going to change and evolve over time. It SHOULD change and evolve. You’ll never be able to anticipate every possible thing that could happen so don’t waste your time.

Have a vision for the year. And beyond if it tickles your fancy.

And then get specific just for the next 90 days. After the 90 day period, see where you are, re-evaluate, and plan again.


TIP #3 DON’T SPEND MORE TIME ON THE PLAN THAN EXECUTING ON THE PLAN…

I mean, part of the point of creating a plan is to make it so that taking action is easier, faster, and more clear, but if it took you 3.5 weeks to create your plan, which covered approximately 4.2 hours of implementation in your biz…

Well... you already know.

Yet, I know that some of you are doing this! You get so caught up in the planning that you’re losing sight of what is actually going to move the need in your business.

Implementing.

If you’re not sure what you should be focusing on an implementing, then take the Focus Formula quiz to get your unique blueprint to grow your biz.

If you’re ready to just get started creating a plan you can actually implement, then download your free planning roadmap.

Now you should be able to determine if you’re using planning as a valuable tool to support your biz. Or...a tool to help you procrastinate.

Now, don’t be hard on yourself if that’s the case. That’s what happens with heart-centered creatives. The goal is to just raise your awareness and focus on what matters.

Here are two other things to keep in mind as you go from a Power Procrastinator to Productive Planner:


TIP #4: ALLOW THE PLAN TO EVOLVE

So this was already mentioned above, but as they say, repetition is the mother of all learning so it’s worth saying again: allow the plan to evolve.

This is part of the benefit of creating a plan that’s 90 days or less — you can easily try something out and see if there’s any progress in 90 days. Now, that’s not to say if you try something that will long term impact your biz and you’re not seeing massive results from it in the first 90 days you should abandon it.

Au contraire.

You’re much better off recognizing that your biz and the marketing and mindset work you do within it IS all about the long game. But even for something that’s a relatively new endeavor, 90 days should give you enough time to evaluate what’s progressing as it should and what is a time waste.


TIP #5: DEVELOP THE SKILL OF CONSISTENCY

Lastly, develop the skill of consistency. I don’t know if consistency is technically a skill, but as I’ve experienced it, its serve to think of it like a skill rather than a natural talent. ‘Cause consistency can surely be developed, but it may take practice.

What does that look like?

Decide what is most important for you in YOUR business.

For a large number of female entrepreneurs running creative, coaching, or online small businesses, creating content is going to be something they need to do consistency in their business to see great results -- meaning a loyal audience of people interested in their work, a full 1-on-1 client roster, etc.

Content can be for social media, a blog, a video, livestream, whatever they like for their business where their ideal dreamboat clients are going to find them.

People EXPECT that they’ll learn from someone for awhile before they buy from them.

In that case, consistency would be creating some amount of content every day.

As I’ve mentioned “create first” is one of my 2018 mantras so I write every morning. The goal is to write at least 2000 words for an hour. But I don’t force myself through it when it’s not happening. The point isn’t to push yourself through resistance, it’s to take the first few steps.

Most of the time, the resistance melts away once I start and then the ideas, inspiration, and energy just flows.

But not always. And then the point was that I did what I could. If I don’t get to 2000 words, I’m not unkind to myself. I’m not mad about. I just do it again the next day.

If you’re an introvert, but you get the majority of your business from networking and referrals (well, you may want to put some other marketing strategies in place) but you may also want to develop consistency in connecting with people every day.

Consistency is a skill that can be developed. So start practicing.

Make a plan. And then put it into action.

I’ll be over here cheering for you!

Why The Hero's Journey Is The Key To A Successful Brand

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The digital marketing age has given rise to a booming online economy and created some of the fastest growing industries in the world. Coaching and entrepreneurship are increasingly common paths, and there has never been a better time to build your own business.

As awesome as that is, it comes with a built-in problem: standing out from the crowd, amid all that noise is seriously tough.

In order to distinguish yourself in the digital sphere, your brand needs to have one vital thing: meaning.

Searching for meaning in your brand is no easier than finding meaning in your life. But it doesn’t have to be so tough. In fact, it  can be suuuuuper simple.

You need a hero.

Or, more specifically, you need to make your client a hero...


Why Storytelling Is Vital For A Successful Brand

When the message of your brand lacks an underlying purpose, it’s really difficult to connect with your ideal clients. Connection is so important, and the best way to achieve it is to adopt your ideal client’s worldview.

You then need to infuse that viewpoint into your brand at every available opportunity. One great way to do this is through storytelling.

Anything said about you, your biz, and your brand, is essentially part of your story.

Given that most of these things will be said by other people (clients, prospects, readers, competitors, etc.) it can leave you without much control over your own narrative.

It’s up to you to take back control by creating a cohesive, memorable narrative that follows your script. One that represents your dream for your business, and aligns with the values and beliefs of your clients.

Storytelling is powerful in marketing because a story fully engages your brain, making you an active participant in the narrative, rather than a bystander observing something, or being told after the fact.

When you use stories in your brand, it draws people in and makes them a part of the narrative. Your narrative.

When it comes to storytelling and journeys, none is more powerful than The Hero’s Journey, because it is one that every single person instantly recognizes (consciously or otherwise), and connects to on a very deep level.

Stories speak to your ideal clients on a subconscious level through their emotional responses to your tale, and the images and symbols within it.

By developing a brand story that is interesting, unique, and authentic, you can connect with your ideal clients using a message that resonates with them.


What Is The Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a narrative pattern that was first identified by Joseph Campbell. It appears in many of the most popular TV shows, literary pieces, and movies, but it’s also found in the most ancient mythology, of every recorded culture the world over.

It’s a story that has been told in many different ways, featuring many different characters, in times, places, and cultures that span the globe, and yet the core of the story, the structure of it, remains the same.

Here are a few modern examples of The Hero’s Journey at work:

  • Star Wars

  • Toy Story

  • Lord of the Rings

  • The Wizard of Oz

  • Finding Nemo

  • The Lion King

  • Harry Potter

  • Legally Blonde

  • Shrek

Believe it or not, the basic story in all these stories is the same.

It follows a distinct path, with stages that are clearly laid out, in a specific order, each serving a vital function.

As we are led through The Hero’s Journey, we experience various emotional and psychological responses triggered by events in the narrative. These responses are predictable, and occur in all humans regardless of their personality types (the potential exception to this being those who have atypical brain function).

The Hero’s Journey really resonates because it’s designed to show a better version of ourselves, an improved version of our own lives, our own world, with a roadmap for exactly how we can achieve this for ourselves. It shows us that we all have more in common than we imagine, and can all achieve astounding things in the right circumstances.

It’s an empowering message, and if you can harness it as part of your branding, you’re well on your way to phenomenal success.

If you’re struggling to visualize the concept, here’s a great commercial from Visa that sums The Hero’s Journey up perfectly:


The Client’s Journey

Using The Hero’s Journey in your branding can be done in a few ways, but the best (and usually the easiest!) way is to tell a brand story in which your ideal client is the hero.

This will ensure your prospects connect with your brand, recognize the universal truths of your values (which are also their values!), and gain a sense of being a part of something bigger than themselves.

All of your clients have their own story.

They are in the process of becoming.

Exactly what they are becoming will vary greatly depending on your business, but all of them are seeking something. They are in a particular point or place in life, with a specific problem or issue that they need solving.

You are going to provide the solution, and in so doing allow them to transform, and move forward, into a better place.

Businesses that elevate their customers, and can support them in their transformations are particularly valued. They are also seen to hold strong meaning.

In short, it’s already all about the journey for your clients.

Making that journey The Hero’s Journey will not only strengthen your brand, it will improve their experience and the results they achieve through you and your business.

By transforming your client’s journey into a hero’s journey, you will speak to their hearts in a much deeper, more profound, and longer-lasting way.

Here’s another great example from Google:


Use A Story In Lieu Of An Elevator Pitch

You’re probably familiar with the concept of an ‘elevator pitch’ for your brand.

It’s a short, pithy, perfectly formed description of your business that can easily be delivered to someone in the space of an elevator ride.

In other words, when someone asks, “What do you do?” your elevator pitch provides the perfect answer.

It informs people of your industry, specialty, niche and expertise, as well as what makes you unique and different, and ideally why they should choose you over other people.

But it does it in a subtle way.

You don’t stick your hand out, wait for someone to shake it and say, “I’m a graphic designer, hire me!”

Coming up with the perfect elevator pitch for your brand can be really tough. The good news is that you can use a brand story instead.

Having a Hero’s Journey to tell people when they ask you that question is a super-simple way of tapping into people’s emotions, almost instantly, and forming a connection. It’s personal, relatable, interesting.

It will also make them curious.

The only thing we love more than a good story is a great sequel!


Stages Of The Hero’s Journey

The reason The Hero’s Journey is so effective in storytelling is that it’s instantly relatable. This is partly because so many stories familiar to us follow the same path, but largely because that path is frequently one we walk in reality.

We begin with an uneasy hero (our ideal client), who is either uncomfortable in their existence, or unaware of something about themselves or their situation that is profoundly important.

The audience can instantly identify with this state of unease.

The hero is pulled in different directions making them feel a lot of negativity, almost as if they have an illness, yet they remain stuck because change would push them outside their comfort zone.

It’s less painful to stay put than it is to try and find a better situation, even though the current situation is painful.

This starting point is essential as it defines the purpose of your story, and demonstrates that there is a reason for your hero-client to embark on their journey.

To figure out this part of the story, you need to know your ideal client:

  • Who are they?

  • Why are they frustrated?

  • What do they want?

N.B. to make this powerful and effective you should know your ideal client well — ideally, through market research.


The Call To Adventure

Having seen that something isn’t quite right with our hero, the stage has been set for some form of conflict (either internal or external), to compel your protagonist to make a change.

This is known as the ‘call to adventure’ and it can be literal or figurative:

  • Gandalf can turn up at your door with a troupe of dwarves and invite you on a quest.

  • Hagrid can arrive with a birthday cake and a letter from Hogwarts.

  • Your father could head south to be the new Hand of the King, leaving you alone with the step-mother who despises you, compelling you to join the Night’s Watch.

  • Your boyfriend could dump you for not being serious enough and head off to Harvard, spurring you to prove your intelligence and seriousness by getting into Harvard Law.

  • Or you could find yourself at an emotional rock-bottom, and realize that change is necessary if you ever want to be happy.

To figure out the best call to adventure for your brand story, you need to know three things about your ideal client:

  1. What will happen if they don’t answer the call and take action?

  2. What do they stand to lose by doing nothing?

  3. What do they stand to gain by taking that first step?


The Refusal Of The Call

This is perhaps the most relatable part of the whole of The Hero’s Journey.

Your protagonist is in an uncomfortable position, called to action, compelled to make a change (usually for deeply personal or practical reasons) and they resist.

They ignore the call, or out-right refuse it.

Why?

Because fear of the unknown is a very powerful force, and even though the current situation is bad, it feels better than stepping out into a situation that’s unfamiliar.

This part of the story forms an emotional bond with the audience as it invites them into the hero’s perspective, and allows them to really empathize with the situation. We’ve all felt paralyzed at some point by the fear of what will happen if we try to improve our situation, achieve something new, or gain more in life.

To devise this part of your story, ask yourself:

  • What has been holding my ideal client back?

  • What is still stopping them from taking action?


Crossing The Threshold

As the hero overcomes their fears and step out of their comfort zone, they cross a threshold of sorts and embark on their journey into the unknown. This can be a literal threshold, like their front door as they leave to go somewhere new, or a metaphorical one, such as accepting they can’t handle something alone, picking up the phone, as asking a friend for help.

Whatever form the threshold in your journey takes, it involves moving from the known into the unknown.

It is often accompanied by some form of peril - there are guardians watching your front door, and dealing with them is risky, or you are unsure how your friend will react to your admission of need and request for help, they might refuse.

The ‘danger’ however is a test of character, and provided you have the courage to continue forward it quickly fades into the background.

However, the life the hero knew previously has been disrupted.

Even if they were to return to the point at which they began, the experience has already changed them, so they would view the world differently.

They would no longer be able to ignore their unrest. This is important because it means they have no choice but to continue on in the hope of finding a solution to their problem, so they can eventually return and find themselves in a better situation.

For your ideal client the disruption that forces them across the threshold could be a number of things. Ask yourself:

  • What disruption in the market or your client’s life would need to happen in order for them to see that your work is urgent, relevant and needed?

  • What situation would pull the proverbial wool from their eyes and force them to confront reality?

  • How can you help them, providing the solution they need to find comfort and peace in life/work?


The Approach

This part of the story is usually where the hero encounters allies. Other individuals who join them on their quest, either because they are looking to achieve the same goal, or because they care about the hero and want them to succeed.

Essentially, this is where your client becomes part of your tribe, and encounters like-minded individuals who will support them in their efforts at transformation.

But while the camaraderie of this aspect of the story is positive and supportive, there is generally conflict during this phase.

After all, without conflict, there’s no story.

Your hero encounters obstacles that could prevent them from continuing on. This is often in the form of blocks they have that keep them from buying. What are the obstacles in your clients’ way, keeping them from signing up? Consider the following:

  • Are they stuck on the price?

  • Is your/their availability preventing them from taking action?

  • Are they still carrying some fear of the dreaded unknown?

  • Are they experiencing discouragement from others?


Meeting The Mentor

The mentor is a vital character in The Hero’s Journey. All the best heroes have one. Luke had Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, Harry had Dumbledore, and Jon Snow had Lord Commander Mormont.

When your hero reaches the point of fully committing to the quest they will encounter their mentor, who will guide them (consciously or subconsciously, literally of figuratively) through the remainder of the journey.

Now that they have responded to the call, found their courage and continued on, overcoming obstacles and still persevering, your hero reaches a turning point. Forces align in their favor, and they find that, while there are still obstacles to overcome, they have the strength required to face them.

This may come from within themselves, but often comes from the allies they have met along the way, their mentor, or natural forces at work in the world (essentially mother nature).

This phase is all about tests, allies, and enemies.

The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the world outside their comfort zone. They adapt to the unfamiliar and gain the skills needed to move towards their goals.

Think of the training montage that is the staple of a lot of movies: Mulan, Rocky, and The Empire Strikes Back, to name but a few!

Your client enters this phase of the journey when they have bought from you and become your client.

You are the mentor!

You are Yoda!

Consider the following:

  • What’s the promise of working with you?

  • What are the emotional results of working with you?

  • What value do your clients receive?

  • What are your clients going to uplevel by working with you?


The Ordeal

There’s a moment in every Hero’s Journey when they are confronted by one of two ordeals: either death, or their worst fear.

It can be a physical, literal death (think Harry Potter and Jon Snow), or it can be a more spiritual death that sees the hero lay their old life/ways/habits/problems to rest.

Either way, the hero emerges from the ordeal resurrected and renewed. They have a moment of clarity, and rise to greet a new life.

Although this is a positive thing to go through, ensuring the hero finally gets to where they need to be, it can be quite traumatic.

Fear and death are hardly a picnic!

The ordeal separates the hero from their old world, self, or ways that were so familiar, and sets them on a new path.

Your hero needs to really dig deep to overcome this ordeal, and it’s often the thing that made them hesitate and refuse the call initially.

But once the ordeal is over, they begin their transformation. For your client, this is the point at which your help leads to the change they needed in life, or the solution they were so desperate to find.

Go back to answers you came up with when considering why they would resist the call. Consider the following:

  • What are their worst fears about working with you?

  • How can you demonstrate that - despite the fact they will be challenging - they can also be overcome?


The Reward

This phase sees the hero reap the rewards of their efforts. They have won something in the process of facing death, or their worst fear, and they carry that reward with them as they move forward.

It is at this point that the hero reflects, and concludes that, while difficult, the journey was well worth it, for they now have what they wanted/needed all along.

For your clients, this is the point where they give you glowing feedback, and bask in the wonder of what they have achieved with your help.


The Road Back

Every great adventure has two aspects: the journey there, and the road back. Generally speaking, we don’t see much of the journey home. Consider Lord of the Rings, which covers the journey to destroy the One Ring in immense detail, and the journey home as a brief aside.

Now in possession of the reward they sought, the hero can return, secure in the knowledge they are richer and stronger for the journey.

But the journey isn’t quite done yet, as the hero has to pass back across the threshold in order to return home. As with when they were leaving, there is usually an obstacle of some sort here, that can make it difficult for the hero to reintegrate.

After all, they are not the same person they were when they left.

But at the beginning of the story they were unhappy, conflicted with themselves and, despite being comfortable at home, didn’t really want to be there. The journey has honed your hero to the point they are able to find peace, either by settling back into their old life with a new perspective, or moving on to a new life.

Consider Marlin returning with Nemo and Dory to the reef, far more relaxed and content in life despite his worst fear having been realized - he lost his son, but found him again, and has made new friends and discovered new strength in the process.

Frodo returns to the Shire to discover he no longer fits into the world of hobbits, and elects to leave with the elves. His best friend, Sam, on the other hand, settles into a happy and contented life, finally confident and secure enough to win the love of his life.

The final test is reintegration: how will your hero use what they have learned?

For your client, this part of the journey is the bit you need to paint for them in technicolor throughout your marketing. THIS is what they sign up for. They may enjoy the journey, but it’s the payoff they’re really interested in.

  • What will their new life look like?

  • How will it be different?

  • Why will it be better?

  • What will it mean to them?


What’s Your Story?

There’s little I love more than a good story. Taking the time to figure out the Hero’s Journey of your brand is an amazing way to connect with your ideal clients, and create a successful brand. But often the best part about finding your story is getting to tell it! Pop a comment below and let me know the story of your clients’ journey…

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How to Come Up with Lots of Great Content Ideas Fast

Do you already know that you want to use more content marketing to market your creative coaching or online business, but not exactly sure what you should be writing about?

This is for you.

My name is Crystal Marsh Irom of CrystalMarshCoaching.com. In today's video I want to give you three ways you can come up with a lot of great content ideas that your ideal clients and customers really want to know fast. I want to make sure that you're really setting yourself up for success.

Also be sure to grab your content planning template.


Step 1: Get Really Clear on Your Goal

The first thing you're going to want to do is get really clear on your goal. You're creating this content to market your business. So you want to be clear on the exact purpose that it's going to serve. So I'm going to give you an example here so that we're really clear on what you're doing.

Example: let's say, for example, that you're a wedding planner, and that in three months you're going to be launching a brand new course that's going to be teaching other wedding planners how they can start their businesses.

So if you know that that's your goal, that you want to serve your audience, that you want to get them primed for this course that you're creating, you're going to want to make sure you're picking themes within that goal.


Step 2: Choose 3 Themes within Your Goal

So this is your overarching goal, you're going to be serving your audience and building your list with the specific content that's going to be a lead in to your course. So that you have the goal you're going to come up with three themes, two to four themes really, but I usually go with three. So based on what you're covering in your course and what you really think is going to best serve your ideal client so that you're not just writing about everything that you know, because if you're running a business you probably know a ton about your industry and you could write about a bunch of different things, but you don't want to get too spread out.

For example: maybe your three themes are:

  1. How to get new bridal clients.

  2. How to create a really outstanding experience for new brides.

  3. And then, how to build relationships with other vendors so that you have a really strong referral network.

So you've got your goal and then you've got your three themes that fit in underneath the goal.


Step 3: Do a Braindump

Once you have all that information you're going to do what I like to call a brain dump, you are just going to list out everything you can think of that would fit within those themes.

So now you should have at least 10-20 ideas already down. What you're going to do after that is figure out what people are most looking for. So this is going to either verify the ideas that you've already come up with, or it's going to give you subtopics, which you can expand that content even further.


Step 4: Expand Your Content Ideas Further

So the three ways that you're going to do this, ways that you're already familiar with, one is Facebook, mainly Facebook groups, the second way is on YouTube, and then the third way is on Pinterest. So I'm just going to go over to my screen now so you can see exactly what I'm doing, if I'm going into a Facebook group and trying to data mine for this information to come up with these content ideas fast.

HOW TO FIND CONTENT IDEAS IN FACEBOOK GROUPS TUTORIAL

Find topics within a Facebook group. So I went to Savvy Business Owners. This is a group that I know has a lot of female entrepreneurs, but also very creative female entrepreneurs, a lot of people in the wedding industry. So since we're going with the wedding planning example, this is a good place to start. So I want to just see what kind of questions people are asking, what are people wondering about? So I might just go to this search box right here where it says, "Search this group". And I'm just going to type in 'wedding planner', and see what comes up.

Okay, so this person asked about liability insurance, so that's not necessarily something I would want to cover, it's not related to the themes that I already picked. Okay, so, "Looking for a pricing consultant/coach if that's a thing, need some quick five minute advice on strategy and preferably someone with wedding planner familiarity." Okay, so this one is helpful. This is someone looking for information about pricing. So that is something that I might use. So I'll just write down in my notes, "Pricing, how to price your services as a new wedding planner."

Here's another one that might be useful, "As a wedding planner, what would you say your best tip is for a bride? An insider tip, one of those things you wish every bride could understand." So this is another one that I might write down, that could potentially work. Okay, here's another one, "Wedding planner/event planner friends, do you have a newsletter or email list? How do you use it effectively? Not big repeat client field, so I'm not sure what I'd send out." So this is another one that would be really good. Wedding planners are interested in how to use a newsletter and email list.

Here's another one that could be really good, "Wedding planner friends, for those of you who have an assistant or associate planner, what are the things you delegate to this team member?" I have a great girl who works for me ... Blah, blah, blah, blah." Okay, so this is just someone asking, as a wedding planner how do you delegate? So that would be a really good topic for content as well. Here's another really good one. So this person says, "I just wanted to ask if it's just me or are you seeing a massive influx in brides who are almost rude?" I'm not going to read the rest of the post, but maybe that would be a good topic, how to deal with brides that are rude. Here's another one, "Has anyone had success with Google AdWords? I'm a wedding planner and I'm wondering if it's worth a try." So this could be a post about the best advertising methods for wedding planners.

So this is just way to get some examples. Obviously, you're going to use search terms that are specific to what you're looking for, that are specific to your field, and you just do a bit of research. Facebook groups are a really great place to mine for information because you just get to listen in on the conversation that your ideal clients and customers are already having.

HOW TO COME UP WITH CONTENT IDEAS IN YOUTUBE TUTORIAL

So the second way that you can look for really great topics is on YouTube. There's a couple of ways even within YouTube that you can do it. One of the ways is by going to people who are in a similar niche as you, and seeing what are their most popular topics? Don't use this to steal their ideas, obviously. But allow it to get your wheel spinning a bit. So I'm going to, again, just go right on over to my screen and show you exactly how to do that.

So now I'm looking at YouTube. I don't know exactly what someone would be looking for for a wedding planner on YouTube, but since I know that I am promoting this course, which is for people who want to be wedding planners, I'm just going to start there. So I'm just going to put in, 'How to become a wedding planner', and see what comes up. So, How To Become a Wedding Planner, from Bianca Renee. So I might click on her and see if she has other videos about wedding planning, that was the top result.

But it looks like her channel is actually about makeup, skincare, and fashion, so it looks like it's probably something she does but it's not something she actually teaches about. So I'm going to just keep on moving. How To Become A Wedding Planner: What Is Your Why? So that's from Alison, so I might go back to that. It's five years old, so it would be better if I could find something a little bit newer. How To Be A Successful Wedding Planner. This is from Wedding Planning Academy, so okay, I'm going to use this one because it's a little bit more recent and because just from reading the name I can tell that they're going to be talking more about wedding planning.

So I'm going to click over here. What you want to do is figure out people who are your competitors, which of their videos are most popular. So I clicked over so I could see all of her videos, and then instead of having them sorted by date added, which is the default, I'm going to go to most popular and see what's coming up. So, How To Be A Successful Wedding Planner, that was a popular one, but that's a little bit vague. I may use that as a big blog post or a video, but I'm looking for more specific content ideas as well. So, International Wedding Trend Report, so that's from a year ago and that has 25,000 views, so that's a kind of a lot. So that's telling me that people are interested in trends. So that might be something that I would want to write on. I would include that in my list, trends for 2018, perhaps.

Then the next one she has also has a lot of views, 19,000. Mistakes To Avoid As A New Planner. So that's a really good one, I might use something along those lines as well. So I would just go through here and see which of them might be really good topics that would fit in well with what you're doing. So I would do that with several of my competitors to come up with some really great content ideas. So that's how you would use YouTube to come up with content ideas.

HOW TO USE PINTEREST TO COME UP WITH CONTENT IDEAS TUTORIAL

The third resource that you can use is Pinterest. Pinterest is a fantastic place, and frankly, any content you're creating, you should just go ahead and Pin as well, because Pinterest is a search engine, it's not a social media platform. But if you go onto Pinterest, again, I'll just pull up on my screen so you can see exactly how to do this, you can type in some of the search terms that you might be looking for. So just to keep it consistent we'll go over the same examples.

Now I am on Pinterest. So I want to see what kind of things are coming up. Pinterest has this really cool feature, when you put in a search. So I'm going to just, again, go with wedding planner here. What it does is it right away will put in the top search terms. So for wedding planner, the most popular terms is printables, so they it right there for you, they make it really, really clear. So I see that another really popular one is checklist, so that might be really a good one, because I could think of a lot of content that might be related to that. Oh, and then when I click on checklist I see that there's even more things coming up. So that one's obviously searched for a lot. Worksheets, that might narrow it down even further. Wow, these are really, really popular terms, because they're giving you a couple of different things. So, worksheets on budget. So each of those would be really good topics.

So I would spend some time in here exploring and looking at some of the search terms. So I would just go through here and do a little bit of research and see what comes up. So here's one, 'Becoming a wedding planner', so this is perfect, this is right on target. So this one doesn't narrow down any further, but you can still see which of some of the pins are very popular. So you could scroll through some of these and get some inspiration and ideas.

Now let's go back a little bit. Wedding planner. So checklist, it looks like that's probably very popular, so you might be able to come up with a bunch of different checklists and that would be really, really good valuable content that people would be searching for. So I would definitely do some checklists for the day of, for timelines, for budgets, all of those things are obviously very, very popular. So that's a really good way of coming up with content that might be super relevant.

Let's see what happens when just put in, 'how to become a wedding planner', and see if that's a popular topic. It looks like it is. It looks like people have guides on here and all sorts of things. So tips, I would definitely give some tips on how to become a wedding planner, that's up here close to the beginning of the searches, so that looks like something people are definitely looking for.

So the idea is that you're looking for these keywords, these search terms that people are using and just getting inspiration for different things that you might want to write about. But they're telling you already what the most popular things that people are looking for are. So that's another way that you can find great topics for your blogs, YouTube videos, live-streams, etc.

So now you know how to come up with a lot of content ideas really fast. So now that you have all these great ideas you're probably wondering, "How do you put it all together into a content marketing plan?" Don't worry, I've got you covered. I have a free download that you can grab right here in this link. Go ahead and grab that, put together your content plan. I cannot wait to see what you create. If you enjoyed this video, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and be sure to subscribe. I will look forward to seeing you next week with more tips.

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8 Mindset Tips: Get Whatever You Desire

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Where are you holding back your desires

Do you have everything you want in you life?
The work?
The money?
The relationship?
The home?

Do you even know what you truly want?

I keep hearing from women who respond to the question, “what do you really want/” by saying, “I don’t know.”

I don’t think that’s true. I think that you do know. Because you’re the only one who can know. Your desires were placed in our heart and they’re real and true for you, but you’re the only person who can know what they are.

Women keep from admitting what they truly want because of fear that they can’t have it. Fear that if they admit they truly want it, certainly to someone else, but even to other people, and they don’t get it, then they’ll be humiliated.  Seen as less-than. A failure.

But none of that’s true. It’s not how other people will see you. But even more importantly, that’s not what’s going to happen. If you admit what you truly desire, can align with it (meaning believe it’s possible), and take action that’s inspired by it, then it will happen.

If you don’t know that, you’re operating on a flawed premise about what’s possible for you when the truth is...


1 | KNOW YOU CAN BE, DO, OR HAVE WHATEVER YOU DESIRE

There is no universal decree stopping it.

The only thing standing in your way? The limitations you’ve created in your own mind.

The voice in your head telling you…
I’m not good enough…
I’m not smart enough…
I’m not worthy…
I don’t deserve…

All of those lies that our inner mean girl tells us. That we believe and that stops us dead in our tracks.

They are lies, but we don’t call them out.

Instead of stopping that voice and saying it’s not true we listen. We listen to  that and we act in accordance with it instead of what we should be doing…

Asking IS THAT TRUE?
...DOES IT SERVE ME TO THINK THAT?

If we did stop to ask if it’s truth or a story, we’d see that more often than not it’s a story. It’s a flawed premise. It’s just a lie that we’ve been telling ourselves since we were little.

We ALL have these stories that we create. Our success in life isn’t determined by having the stories or not but our willingness to recognize them for what they are. And then tell new stories.


2 | QUESTION THE STORIES WE ALL TELL

There are certain universal stories that we all tell.

Scarcity
...there’s not enough

Abandonment
...I’m unlovable

Humiliation
...if I ____ I’ll fail

Inferiority
...I’m not enough

These stories are sticky. And convincing. And seem so true and have become such a part of the collective unconscious, that for most, at least one is solidly ingrained before puberty.

But they’re not true. They were never true. If you can understand and know that on a deep, soul-level things will click into place.

**IF YOU KNEW THE LIMITATIONS YOU’VE CREATED BASED ON THE UNIVERSAL STORIES WE TELL WERE FALSE, WHAT WOULD YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE?**


3 | QUESTION THE STORIES YOU TELL

In addition to the stories that we all tell, we all tell stories about limitations that seem more personal. These could be based on experiences you’ve had that are not universal such as dysfunction in  your childhood home or events that were traumatic for you.

In what ways do you believe you are uniquely worse off than other humans?
What afflictions, disadvantages, limitations do you have that are uniquely you or limited to a group of people like you?

There is truth to the circumstances. But anything that happened in the past is just that — in the past.

**IF YOU KNEW THE LIMITATIONS YOU’VE CREATED BASED ON YOUR PAST WERE FALSE, WHAT WOULD YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE?**


4 | YOU DON’T NEED TO GET RID OF YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS

...You need to learn to ignore them. What we focus on expands. If you can focus on what you want and what you’re creating instead of what you believe is holding you back, you can see your desires expands and your limitations shrink.

At first, you’ll have to more consciously ignore them. That’s why you’re taking the time to imagine what your world is like without those limiting beliefs.


5 | WRITE OUT WHAT YOU WANT

Just write out everything you want. In the present tense using word like I am. I have. I’m doing. Don’t limit yourself or censor yourself. Just get it all out.


6 | TAKE IT TO 212 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT

Now that you’ve considered what your life would look like without limitations and have written down what you really want, turn it up. Stretch yourself.

Allow your desires to reach a boiling point because I know that what you’ve already written isn’t the full extent. You wrote that based on where you are. Where you’re still dealing with limitations. Release them all fully and get back to writing.


7 | LET IT CLICK IN TO PLACE

Read through everything you wrote and start to really feel it. Believe it. See it. Know that this is just s true as anything that happened in the past or anything else that will happen in the future.


8 | RINSE AND REPEAT

Do it again tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. Watch as things begin to unfold as you’ve written.

I completely believe in you. I had the universal limitations that we all all had and I had a TON of the unique beliefs. I went through stuff in my life that made me feel undeserving and unworthy of love, security, and wealth. But I’ve created a life that makes my heart sing and I’m just getting started. I know that if it’s possible for me, it's doubly possible for you.

CHEERS — to your life!

Xx,
Crystal

IMPORTANT REMINDER FOR THE DAY: You always get to make a decision.

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You may not have control over every circumstance in life, but you do have control over how you react to them. At any moment, you’re allowed to make a decision.

I reminded myself of that this morning when I woke up “on the wrong side of the bed.”

Not just because it was the wrong side of the bed, but because I had an intense conversation with my husband, Kobi, last night that got my emotions brewing. And even though it was with my husband, I still get what Brene Brown has termed “vulnerability hangovers.”

A vulnerability hangover is when you feel a sense of heaviness and malaise after sharing something about yourself in a deeply personal way, with a sort of uncomfortable vulnerability.

Last night, we went to a Chris Rock show where he spent time making jokes about his recent divorce. It was funny. But also really sad. As newlyweds, there’s something that strikes close to home listening to a recent divorcee discuss the changes that take place from the first years of marriage to the eventual decline. Especially since brand new marriages aren’t always easy to begin with.

This morning, I woke up with the unease of a hangover which my single beer at the show couldn’t have created.

I closed my eyes and woke up again, but the feeling remained.

In that moment, I had a decision to make: give into this feeling and spend the day in bed or get up, create, and serve.

In reading this blog, I’m sure you can assume the decision I made, but I don’t want you to breeze past it. It wasn’t the easy decision to make and it’s definitely not the direction I always decide to take.

But I CHOSE to remind myself of things I know…

IN ANY MOMENT YOU CAN MAKE A DECISION TO FEEL DIFFERENTLY.

Our feelings show up so quickly at times. They feel out of our control. Like something is happening to us.

Moreover, there are times that we find a sense of satisfaction in the negative feelings. Maybe not as a result of the discomfort of the feeling in itself (although for some that can be enough). But as a result of the unintended benefits of being sad. Or worried. Or victimized.

Perhaps the most common unintended benefit is the way others respond to you. Maybe you receive loving responses. Sympathy. Coddling. Softening.

Kobi is always an incredibly loving husband and nothing makes Kobi act more loving than seeing me sad. I would never purposely manipulate his feelings, but having him do what he can to care for me and cheer me up when I’m sad… well, it’s nice.

Some people may not have such loving partners. If that’s the case, and your partner turns into a  more gentle and loving person when you’re upset, it’s an even bigger benefit.

Another unintended benefit?

For many women who don’t allow themselves time to rest, it gives them permission to indulge in themselves. Like a woman experiencing a breakup, being fired, or taken advantage of, she’s allowed, and even expected, to self-comfort through lounging, eating, and TV binging.

The benefits may vary from person-to-person, but I’m sure you know what they are for you.

This morning, a part of me wanted to experience those two benefits mentioned above. But I reminded myself that I get to make that decision. Because yes, the results of sulking may feel nice to a certain extent, but they wouldn’t feel nearly as good as making a different decision.

A decision to feel better. A decision to shift my thoughts.

I could decide to release the vulnerability hangover
...and the conversation from the night before
...and the useless worries
and have control over my reaction.

While we always have control over our responses, it’s important to note the distinction between shifting my mindset and forcing my way through work that I just wasn’t inspired to do. It’s not about saying that someone who is depressed just needs to think better thoughts. It’s about making a decision to align myself and take action because, ultimately, that’s what I wanted.

Of course there are times when the best thing you can do is to rest and indulge. But I knew that’s not what I needed. I knew that it wouldn’t serve me in this state.

So… I made a decision to get up. And journal, and read, and meditate. And as I did those things, I felt the cloud lift and the inspiration to write again hit.

Then I was reminded: YOU CAN BE, DO, OR HAVE WHATEVER YOU DESIRE.

It’s always fun to think this way, but I really do believe it’s true. Just thinking about it makes me want to move.

Often, when we feel down, it’s because we want to change something about our circumstances. We can’t control our circumstances at all times, but we can control our responses. Which as a result, may change our circumstances over time. It just might not be as immediate as the changes we can make in our emotional state.

Recognizing that I can be, do, or have whatever I desire also reminds me that I often put too much pressure on the timing of things. Whatever I’m wanting… I want it to happen immediately.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: wanting to make things happen. Rather than trusting that everything is unfolding as it’s meant to. I can do my part and that is all.

Things are always working out for you.

Xx,
Crystal

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8 Reminders for Entrepreneurs Feeling Stuck

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As I sat down to write this, I encountered a feeling that I’ve had before. It’s never welcome, despite it’s familiarity.

Feeling stuck. Also known as resistance.

I wanted to just say “forget it” for today.
I wanted to go take a nap.
I wanted to give up.

But then I realized that feeling of wanting was my ego -- that wasn’t the desire of my heart.

My heart wants to create. It wants to follow commitments.

I decide to write Sunday - Thursday every day for the next 3 months. I was inspired after re-reading The Art of War the importance of showing up as a professional. Only 20 days in and I already wanted to quit. And then I reminded myself of a few important things and I want to share those reminders with you....


1. ALL THE CREATIVITY YOU WILL EVER NEED IS INSIDE YOU

This isn’t to say all the creativity you will ever have is already there, but it all comes from within.

Of course we can find inspiration outside of ourselves. But the creativity isn’t coming from outside of ourselves.Humans are infinitely creative beings. It may be the thing that most separates us from other animals.

People sometimes experience a fear around their creativity. A fear that if they create and produce eventually it will just dry up, but it’s not the way of creativity works. As we experience flow and creativity and inspiration we create. Once that has been created we expand. More creativity then flows. It’s continuous and there’s no need to fear or worry that it will cease.


2. RESISTANCE IS UNIVERSAL

Reminding myself that I’m not the only one grappling with resistance is comforting.

In creative online work it’s easy to feel isolated.

As if you're the only one…

...not being as productive as you want
...not creating as much as you want
...not making as much money
...feeling stuck.

Remembering that others, even people who seems like content machines, get stuck. This knowledge is reassuring.  People who are great have also had moments of self doubt and questioning themselves.

The difference between those people and others is that they don’t allow it to define them. They recognize it for what it is -- an insidious, real, but passing sensation, and move through it.

They show up anyway.

They create anyway.


3. FEAR IS UNIVERSAL

Like resistance, fear is universal.

We all experience it.
It’s the same for all of us.
It varies little.
It doesn’t serve us.
It’s boring.

However, it does allow us to develop what is sure to serve us regardless of what we do -- courage.

Courage is one of the most valuable traits anyone can possess because it allows us to stretch beyond ourselves. Developing courage allows us not only to overcome circumstances we didn’t necessarily think we could, but allows us to see ourselves differently.

When we define ourselves by lack, we see more lack. We contract. We play small and that doesn’t serve us or the world.

When we are willing to practice courage, it expands how we see ourselves. A shift in perspective about yourself can jolt you out of your stuckness and into a dimension where so much more is possible. Where grace, ease, flow, and fun are the norm.

Fear is universal, but also learned. The only two fears we’re born with are of loud noises and falling. The myriad other fears we develop along the way: fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of being seen, fear of being invisible...

We learn them along our path, but we can unlearn them if we’re willing.


4. FEELINGS ARE MEANT TO BE FELT

Fear and resistance and all the other negative feelings around our creation are just that -- feelings. Not to say feelings are insignificant, because they’re not. But they’re just meant to be felt.

We resist our negative emotions.
It feels uncomfortable.
We don’t think we should be feeling them.

In the resistance they become stronger and more real.

When we’re willing to feel our emotions they dissipate.

When we feel something we try to push it down. Deny it. Hide from it. Keep ourselves so busy that we can’t really feel it.

If we slow down. Allow it. Welcome it. Accept it and all other parts of ourselves, the discomfort starts to melt away.

You have to try it to understand the power of this.


5. THIN SLICE

Thin slice the actions you need to take into the smallest possible step.  Make it such a tiny step that you’re easily able to take the action.

That counts as progress.

Then take the next teeny tiny step.

This is the way to create whatever you want. We have huge beautiful visions of what we want, but we’re so far away that we don’t even want to try. But that’s like wanting to be in California when you’re in New York and being so mad that you’re not in California that you won’t book a flight. Or rent a car. Or arrange whatever other transportation you fancy to take the trip.

You can get wherever you desire in life. But you have to start where you are with what you have.


6. TAKE ACTION BASED ON HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL, NOT HOW YOU CURRENTLY FEEL

If you don’t ever feel like doing anything.
And you only act when you feel like it.
Then you’re not going to get in motion.
Its physics - an object at rest stays at rest.

If you can thin slice and then be willing to take that teeny tiny action based on how you want to feel -- not based on how you’re feeling now, you can eventually move mountains.


7. CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES

Celebrate your successes. No matter how small

Our desires are constantly expanding. They’ll always expand so long as we’re alive. That is a beautiful thing about being a soul in a human body. But take the time to celebrate the wins you experience.

Without acknowledging your successes, celebrating your successes, and feeling gratitude for your successes, joy and happiness will constantly elude you. Regardless of the material success you achieve.

Slowing down. Celebrating. Recognizing yourself and what you’ve done is the key to enjoying your progress.


8. REST, DON’T QUIT

And when you get tired -- learn to rest, not quit.

We’re all tired sometimes. It’s part of the human state.

The natural inclination is to give up.
We think we’re doing something wrong.
That we’re not on the right path.

But you’re always on the right path. You’re doing the right thing at this moment. And if in the next moment you want something different, you’re allowed to do that.

I believe in you. I know magic is available for you.

Go do the work you’re meant to do. I’ll be over here cheering for you!

Xx,
Crystal

4 Types of Content You Should be Using in Your Content Marketing Strategy

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One of the biggest complaints I hear from entrepreneurs growing their creative, coaching, and online businesses is, “I’m not getting clients consistently enough.”

Which is scary because then there’s no financial stability.

And instability leads to anxiety.

And anxiety...well, isn’t that what you were hoping to avoid on Sunday nights when you were dreaming of leaving your job to start your biz?

If you’re not experiencing consistency, it may be a problem with your marketing strategy.

If you don’t have a lot of cash to spend, then the core of your marketing strategy should be content marketing. (Frankly, even if you are blowing your nose with Franklins, you should have a content marketing strategy.)

To get started, be sure to watch this week’s video where I explain the 4 Types of Content you should be using in your overall content marketing strategy.

You need to have a content marketing strategy so that you can more easily connect with your ideal customers and clients. Content marketing is one of the most effective free ways of your marketing your business creative, coaching, or online business. Your overall marketing strategy should include not only using various mediums for publishing your content, but also the four primary types of content to build a relationship with your audience so that they become clients and customers.

Using each of the four types of content marketing allow you to create a complete and well-rounded content plan — not only because there’s variety, but also because the different types perform well on different platforms. The four types of content are:

  1. Teaching content

  2. Inspirational content

  3. Connection content

  4. Sales content


Teaching Content

For most businesses, teaching content is the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy. Teaching content is the foundational piece of your strategy that will allow you to accomplish three other objectives:

  1. Grow your following

  2. Give your followers value

  3. Establish yourself as an authority

1 | Grow Your Following

One of the best things about teaching content is that it serves your current audience and is most likely to help you grow your audience because people are searching for knowledge.

The three largest search engines: Google, YouTube, and Pinterest cater to people looking for answers to specific inquiries. Some of the most frequently searched for information is “how-to.”

If you are frequently found in search results answering a questions that your ideal customers and clients are asking, that will allow you grow your following quickly beyond the people who are already familiar with you.

Here’s a tip: one of the most popular types of how-to content includes listicles. These are the things you see on Buzzfeed. You know, 7 Ways to Make Your Cake Fluffier, 5 Things You Never Knew About Bird Feeders. This type of content is very attractive and shareable and also does well in the form of an infographic.

Like this ↓

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Beware of the pitfall of this content which is that it can be a little fluffy. Do your best to ensure that you consistently provide valuable content.

Tip: if you think some of your content is basic or fluffy, do some research. It will add credibility to your content, and could give your readers another valuable perspective.

2 | Give Your Followers Value

Teaching gives your prospects a ton of value for free. Before someone is going to be inclined to pay money to work with you, you’re going to want to build up the “know, like, and trust factor.”

Creating valuable content that teaches something is a quick and highly effective way of doing this.

In fact, the more you can give away for free the better. You’re showing your prospects that you have the information that they’re seeking. And that you’re generous with your knowledge and time.

One of the most common concerns people express about this is, “if I give away everything for free, then I won’t have anything to sell.”

This is a myth that needs to be busted right now!

You absolutely could put everything in your paid programs onto the internet for free, but people will still buy a paid offering.

Why?

Because people wants complete systems and A-Z Blueprints. Not all, but many people are willing to pay a premium to receive not just the information, but the information in a clear and easy to follow way so that they can properly implement it and get the best results.

Why?

‘Cause it saves time.

Here’s something to keep in mind: our two most valuable resources are time and money.

What’s great about money is that it replenishes. It comes in and goes out. Just like oxygen. You get money, you spend it on things, and then you get more and so it continues.

Time is not the same way. It does not replenish.

Therefore, many people are willing to spend money — a replenishable resource — if it will save time.  It will serve you well to remember this incredible important principle and keep you from worrying about giving away too much for free.

3 | Teaching Content Establishes You As An Authority

As a teacher, you’re setting yourself up as an authority.

For some people authority sounds like an intense term only established by people with 7- figure businesses or multiple degrees and advanced training. But if you create valuable content that teaches your ideal clients and customers the information they want to know. You’ve taken a shortcut to establish yourself as an authority.

And that’s a big deal because authority is powerful. In 1963 Stanley Milgram conducted a study at Yale University that demonstrated how deep people’s duty to authority is.

In the experiment, two participants met and were placed in separate rooms. One participant was a “student” and the other was the “teacher.” Unbeknownst to the teacher, the student was an actor.

The teacher was instructed to ask the student a question. If the student got the question wrong, the teacher was directed to give the student an electric shock.

Here’s the scary part: when a “researcher” wearing a lab coat told the teacher to keep shocking the student,  even if the student was screaming, kicking, and begging for mercy, the teacher would continue to deliver shocks 65% of the time. All the way up to 450 volts of electricity.

On the other hand, when there was not encouragement from the researcher, the teacher would quit delivering shocks early on.

These were just regular people. This is a clear demonstration of how big the influence that authority has on us.

N.B.: Don’t worry! No shocks were actually given, but the teacher didn’t know that.

Yep, authority is powerful.

Another way to look at authority is like the distinction you learned in English class of showing vs. telling: authority is being recognized by others as someone with valuable information. If you spend time creating content that teaches your audience something they don’t know, you can quickly and easily set yourself up as an authority. It’s the difference between telling people, “I’m great at what I do” and showing people, “I have all this information that I want to give to you,” and then them saying, “wow, you’re great at what you do.”

This content does best as…

Teaching content does very well as long form blog posts and videos for YouTube. Regardless of the form you’re creating, consider creating graphics so that you can share on Pinterest as well.


Inspirational Content

Inspirational content is, as it sounds, meant to inspire.

Inspirational content is…
... the rags-to-riches story
...the single-to-in-love story
...the overweight to fit story.
...the overworked and overwhelmed to organized and calm story.

Depending on your industry, this type of content can be a little bit controversial because people know it.

They recognize it right away, and if not properly contextualized, it can seem stale and trite.

Does this mean you shouldn’t  do it?

Absolutely not. It’s still powerful because everyone wants to be better. We all want to improve.

Indeed, there’s a marketing quote that says we’re all selling the same thing because people are always buying the same thing: a better version of themselves.

Whenever we buy something it’s because we think we will feel or be better in the having of it. People say yes based on the emotion they feel when they think of the outcome of the purchase. That’s why terminology that’s clear, direct, and loud still works to sell, even if as the person selling, it feels “spammy.”

People buy from the hart. We make our buying decisions based on our emotions and then we justify it using our logic and reason.

This content does best as

Social media. Inspirational content can be done genuinely on social media such as Facebook posts and Instagram. Because they’re social media platform, people expect a mix of content. Some will be from family and friends and some is from the brands and businesses they follow. It seems only natural that entrepreneurs would share the stories of their own transformations and those they’ve provided their clients on social media.


Connection Content

Connection content is about is about connecting with your readers at a deeper level. In some ways its similar to inspirational content, because it may also inspire and motivate. However, it may be a bit more messy and vulnerable.

People are drawn to other people.
We want to buy from people.
We want to see the faces of other people.

As a content creator and business owner, when people feel like they can connect with you on a human level, that is compelling.

Yes, they want to see you’re an authority.
Yes, they want to be inspired.
But if they feel they can’t connect — like you’re too far out of reach.
Too special, it’s less relatable.

They may not think or believe that they can actually have what you have.

Connection content is about sharing some more personal information about yourself, but also your values and beliefs. When you take a stand for something, it creates space for your audience to align with you.

Of course, there’s a risk to this: some people won’t agree with you and will be repelled.

That is ok. ‘Cause as you already know — if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.

If you’re willing to open up and take a stand, you’ll find yourself with a more devoted following.

Here’s where you might get stuck: we worry about what people will think about us. It can be scary to put your truth out there on the internet for anyone to stumble across.

The antidote: build up your confidence. Know that you have a message and your people are waiting to hear from you.

Connection content does best as...

Social media and email marketing. The people who are already following you have a rapport with you that someone who stumbles across your content on Google or YouTube.  You’re showing up in a feed that they’re scrolling right alongside the posts of friends and family. You’re fitting in with the other people in their life and it’s a great opportunity to connect.

If you have a huge and devoted following, then these types of content can do well on other mediums because people may already be interested in you, but it would be much harder to grow your YouTube channel, for example, solely off this type of content. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules. Maybe you’re a fascinating person or are able to discuss your life in a fascinating way. In which case maybe you could establish your following just with connection content. If you do, tell me about it, I’d love to use you as an example!

Connection content also does well in email marketing. If someone is on your email list they’ve already decided they like you enough to allow you into their inbox.. This is a great place to establish a deeper and more authentic connection by sharing more vulnerable stories or taking a stand.


Sales Content

If you’re running a business and want to make money from your content, then sales content is an integral part of your strategy. Seems too simple to be said, but if you’re not selling then you’re not making money. And if you’re not making money then you’ve got a hobby rather than a business.

There are no hard and fast rules that someone absolutely MUST stick to in order to create successful sales content.

There are some entrepreneurs out there who are always selling something and they do incredibly well because of it. However, this works best for people who have already established a following of people who know they provide great value. If you’re still building your audience, then constantly selling without providing other content, may not work for you. You may fatigue your audience before you have the time to gain their loyalty and to establish the know, like, and trust factor that would compel them to buy from you.

If you’re not yet at the point where you have a cult following then here’s a general rule for you to follow: 3:1.  For every three non-sales piece of content you put out, create one piece of sales content.

For some people this may look like every month they’re making one offer after three weeks of non-sales content. For most people, it’s not going to look like that because they’re going to be sending out a series of promotional emails to sell, not just one.

For example, if you have a sales funnel that has 6 emails, then you would have wanted to send out 18 non-sales emails before starting the sales emails. This isn’t a set-in-stone rule, but if you want a guideline to follow, this is a great one.

The whole point with sales is getting your audience to take a particular action -- namely buying your product or service. Start by having them take smaller actions first

  • Comment on a post
  • Share a post
  • Participate in a poll or survey
  • Download a freebie
  • Follow you on social media

Get people used to taking your advice and following your instructions so that when you’re ready to sell, they’re ready to buy.

If you follow this content marketing strategy you’ll not only have a loyal audience, but an audience of people ready to buy from you.

Want help putting your content strategy together?

Be sure to get the content strategy planning template.

9 Small Shifts to Create the Business and Life You Want (My personal reminders and commitments for 2018 and beyond)

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1 | BE PRODUCTIVE

Schedule out your days, weeks, and months. You don’t have to, of course, but people who are doing this are getting further ahead.

Many new entrepreneurs are thrilled to be working on their business full-time, and they immediately adopt the entrepreneurial lifestyle featured on Insta and Pinterest.

But if you want your business to work (and work well), then as you’re building, treat it like a job. Show up. Know what you need to do. Do what you need to do.

Of course, some entrepreneurs, do make multi-6 and 7-figure amounts of money while “doing nothing,” but notice what their “nothing” actually is.  They’re still creating, sharing, connecting, and serving an audience. You haven’t seen what it took for them to reach the point where all they have to do is post a blog once a week, do a live stream every few days, or make a FB post and then lean back and wait to rake in the dough.

Download my Goal Setting Roadmap now, to nix overwhelm, get crystal clarity and be more productive. 


2 | PLAN FOR THE PRESENT

Have a vision for what you’re creating, but keep your planning focused more immediately. If you’re planning for five years down the line, you’re not going to be able to maintain the motivation and enthusiasm.

Research shows that 90 days is about the length of our mental horizon. So keep your focus there. Do you more in-depth planning for the 30 days ahead of you.

Set markers that are achievable ‘cause it helps maintain your momentum when you…


3 | LEVERAGE BASIC MOTIVATION

Humans are motivated by avoiding pain or gaining pleasure.

We are more motivated by the avoidance of pain. But if you celebrate yourself, the burst of pleasure that comes from reward in enough to motivate you as you gain momentum.

If you only get pleasure from the big goals, you reach you’ll lose momentum before you hit those markers. You’ll move back into the place where you’re only motivated when the pain is severe enough.


4 | PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Gratitude not only feels good, but it also gets you to focus on what’s going the way you want instead of what you want that you don’t yet have.

More importantly, gratitude is a potent reminder of how powerful you are. Gratitude allows you to recognize that there was something you didn’t have in your life experience, that you wanted, that you were then able to create and receive into your experience. That’s a mighty thing you’ve done. And you can do it again for whatever else you want.


5 | ENJOY THE BUILDING

Part of being a human is that our desires are going to expand continually. Once we reach the goal we’ve been working on, we want something else. We THINK we want to just “get there,” but that would quickly grow dull.

...And since there’s no “there” to get to, it will serve you to enjoy the process of what you’re building.

Enjoy the creation.

Enjoy the building.

Enjoy the work.

If you can’t ever enjoy the process, you’ll invariably find yourself pushing up against frustration and disappointment.


6 | KNOW THAT WHAT YOU WANT EXISTS

Know that what you want exists. You just can’t see it yet.

In the summer of 2016 I attended a business seminar focused on mindset. I stood up in a room of over 300 entrepreneurs and talked about what I most desired and how devastating it felt that I didn’t have it yet. How unfair it seemed that I couldn’t find love.

The leader looked me in my watery eyes and told me, “it’s here. You just can’t see it.” I looked around the room thinking maybe he had met someone who he thought would be good for me…

It was confusing, but it snapped me out of the story that I didn’t have it. I started thinking, “it’s here, I just don’t see it.”

It was less than a month later that I met my husband.

It existed I just kept telling the story that I didn’t have love, which kept it out.

Whatever you want is already available to you, but you’re too busy focusing on the way things are. What’s right in front of you.

What you focus on expands so as you’re focusing on how things are, how they’re not what you want, that becomes all you can see and you push away what you most desire.

Start recognizing that what you want exists. You just can’t see it yet.


7 | APPLY THE 80/20 RULE TO CREATION V. CONSUMPTION

When you’re ready to scale your business to 6-figures+ be sure to spend 80% of your time creating and 20% of your time-consuming. That means you’ll be producing 4-5x what you consume. Fewer courses. Fewer masterminds. Fewer books. Fewer trainings.

When we start our businesses, it’s natural to want to consume. At least it was for me. I mean I had spent four years in college, three years in law school, and 1,000+ hours preparing for the CA bar, so I wanted to acquire at least that much education for my business…

It makes sense but not how entrepreneurship works. Master your craft. Study and learn, but also implement. You’re never going to stop learning in your business so let go of the idea that you need to know everything even before you start.

Which is a perfect segue into the next point…


8 | YOU’RE NOT A VICTIM OF THE FACEBOOK FEED

Or Insta feed

Or Pinterest

Or any other network that allows for endless scrolling. We feel bombarded.

...So create white space for yourself.

You can curate the feed and be intentional about the content you consume.

If there’s a group you find valuable and want to see posts for, then follow it. Unfollow the rest. You can still stay in the group, and if you think about it and decide to mozy over to the actual group, all the posts will still be there.

Choose 5-10 people whose content serves you. The rest you can unfollow and remain friends.


8| RECOGNIZE THE VALUE OF YOUR WORK

See your work as of high service. You need to recognize your value, even before others widely recognize it.  That doesn’t mean you have to be anyone’s guru or that you have to lie or position yourself falsely. Just see that what you do is of value. If you have a desire to help or serve people, that’s good enough to start.

Grow and get better at it, but realize there is someone 1 or 2 steps behind you who will benefit immensely from your teaching and service.


9 | BE A GREAT STUDENT

Be a great student to become a better leader. And being a great student isn’t the same as consuming massive amounts of information all the time. (See 7)

Being an excellent student means you study, implement, and embody what you learn. That makes you a better student than the person reading two books every week who can’t explain any of the concepts in a clear and succinct way. And who certainly haven’t applied anything learned.

Spend at least 1 hour per day learning.

You can be, do, or have whatever you desire. These are a few small shifts you can make to get you moving in that direction.

My life and business have become more than I ever thought possible for me. If I can do this, than you DEFINITELY can.

I believe magic is possible for you.

I’ll be over here cheering you on!

Want help with any of this? Click here to work with me!

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How To Find The Perfect Path For Sales Calls

One of the biggest challenges we face as entrepreneurs is getting people to say, “Yes!”

I’ve said it before, converting leads into clients is a lot like dating. You can’t propose on the first date, you have to get to know each other first! That’s where your nurture sequence comes in. And when it comes down to it, everything hinges on that three letter word when you finally pop the question.

Will they say yes and become a new client, or will they say no and leave you hanging?

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One of the most powerful tools in the entrepreneurial arsenal is the sales call. It’s the point at which you get your potential new client on the phone. You chat, you laugh, you finally take the plunge and ask them to commit, and then you wait with baited breath to see what they say.

Sales calls can easily be a terribly stressful experience, and a lot of people avoid them. But if you’re a service provider, there’s really no getting around it - people will want to speak to you before they make a decision.

Sales calls are an incredibly good way of giving leads the final nudge they need, no matter what kind of entrepreneur you are. If you have a service - any kind of service - or a high-end product that requires a substantial investment, sales calls are valuable..

To help you nail them, I’ve created a FREE set of sales call scripts, so make sure you download those. But for now, let’s dig into a few vital areas you need to be aware of in order to figure out exactly how you can rock your calls for maximum conversions...


The Purpose of Initial Calls

The call is the start of your journey with a potential new client, and you want to start on the right foot.

By the time people signup for a free call, they’ve probably been loitering on your site for a while. They’ve devoured your free content, followed you on social media, and possibly signed up for your newsletter.

This call isn’t about demonstrating you’re capable of delivering what they need.

There’s an unspoken assumption that comes with a sales call, which tells you they are already interested, and already believe you’re good enough to merit a look.

They need to speak to you in order to check out your process, make certain you’re the right choice for them, and take the first vital step towards becoming a client.

Just getting on the call is a little leap of faith on their part. They’re giving you their time, and you should reward them for their faith in you.

It’s also important to make it clear there are no obligations. They aren’t agreeing to buy before they get on the call. That’s not what discovery calls are about.

It’s up to you to help them get enough clarity to make a decision about whether they want to invest their money with you. If they decide your service isn’t the right fit (for whatever reason!) they shouldn’t be left worse-off for the experience.

Ideally your discovery calls will be no-obligation and free.

And don’t be worried about not charging money for the call. If nothing else, you will get their details and email address when they sign up, which means that even if they say ‘no’, you have a chance to connect with them and serve them through your mailing list!

(Sidenote: make sure that they give you permission to add them to your list - you need to include an option for them to opt out of your mailing list on the consult call intake.)


Short But Sweet

Another easy mistake to make is to think sales calls should be long. It’s natural to want to give people great value and offer a free hour of your time. But surprisingly this isn’t the best tactic. Keep your sales calls short and sweet, around 15 minutes.

That’s plenty of time for you both to get a sense of who each other are, but not long enough for it to turn into a “pick your brain” session.


Pleasure And Pain

The key to a great call is to focus on their pleasure and pain.

First, you have to tackle their pain:

They're unhappy about something going on in their life, which is motivating them to change.

Their pain is the reason they signed up for the call to begin with, because they believe you have the cure.

Pain is a greater motivator than pleasure, and you really need to motivate them!

So start by asking them directly, what’s not working for them? The most common reason people say no (aside from insufficient funds!) is that their level of discomfort is not high enough.

You need them to be in a fair amount of pain, or they won’t be motivated enough to take action.

Once you’re clear on their pain, you will be able to see how best you can help them. Getting them to verbalize their pain points will also ensure it’s fresh in their minds, which will help with the next part.

Pleasure.

What is it about the solution you are offering that they will love? What’s different and unique to you? Why should they choose you over everyone else?

Having a signature service, offering, or program, is a great way to play up the pleasure factor. A signature offer is a distinct process you take your client through, which helps them move from pain to pleasure.

It’s vital that you paint a really vivid picture of that journey and the transformation they will experience as a result. Paying a high fee for a service with you is taking committed action towards what they want most. They need to very clearly see that you are what they want most (because you have the perfect solution to their pain). If they can’t see that, they won’t commit, and they won’t act.


The Three Cs Of Discovery Calls

Clarity + Conviction + Confidence

These are the three Cs of effective discovery calls, and you will need all of them to make sure that image you’re painting is as bright and vibrant as possible.

Start by asking yourself these two questions:

  1. What is the solution they're seeking?

  2. Is what I have to offer going to solve their problem?

As you formulate answers, consider the three Cs:

Clarity

Your ideal client is in pain in relation to the problem your coaching (or other offering) solves. Make sure you can describe and understand their situation in immaculate detail, so they feel you totally ‘get’ their problem, even better than they do.

And, make sure the offer you have is genuinely a great solution to their pain.

Only propose one program or solution on your call. A confused mind says "No."

Prospects want to know you have clarity about their situation, and see a clear path towards the solution.

Conviction And Confidence

You need to speak with absolute conviction so they trust that you have the solution. To do that you also need to exude confidence that you’re the best person for the job.

You’ve totally got this!

Your conviction will convince them that you’re going to usher them from where they are to where they want to be.

If you’re stuck, here are a few easy tricks to use:

  1. Try the ‘leaky boat’ approach: ask them about their current challenges, and point out all the leaks in their life. Then, explain how your program or offering will fill all those holes.

  2. Roadmap for them of where they're going. Right at the start, tell them what’s going to happen next by saying, "It's my intention today to get a clear understanding of where you are." Throughout the call consistently seek permission from them, and tell them where you're going with the conversation. (Hint: the direction you’re taking should be “I’m going to take care of you!”)

  3. You should already be really clear on exactly what your ideal client’s biggest pain point is, as it will be the core of your marketing message. Focus on their Biggest Challenge (or as I like to call it, the BC!). This is gold!

  4. Dig into that pain - what's the cost of them staying stuck? Really make them think about it, and accentuate their pain. Many people don't want to get into their pain. This is quite natural, but you have to push them into it (gently!), and keep them there so they don’t simply return to the status quo. When a potential client says “no”, it’s because she's thinking, "Where I am is ok. It’s livable." She's lost the pain and therefore the motivation to make a change. To get her to say “yes”, you need to show her that it’s not livable, she shouldn’t have to live with it, she deserves more, and there is a way for her to have better if she’s brave enough to claim it.


Understanding Their Obstacles

When you’re on a call there’s often something standing in the way of your prospective new client moving forward. Sometimes there’s more than one obstacle, and it’s important to identify them and demonstrate your understanding.

If you can do this, they will recognize that you’re offering something they need, and that without you they won’t be able to do this thing alone. That’s suuuuper important, because if it’s merely something they want, they’re not going to be driven to say yes. They might say yes anyway, but they might not, because we don’t always get things even when we really want them.

But when we need them, we find a way to make it happen.

That’s human nature.

The other reason to understand and explore the obstacles they face is that it will help you figure out if you really are the right person to help them. If it turns out you have no solution to the obstacles they face, they’re not your ideal client.

And if they’re not your ideal client, it doesn’t matter whether they want to say yes or not, you shouldn’t be asking.

It won’t serve them, or you, if they are simply not right for you.


Are They A Good Fit?

Discovery calls aren’t just about convincing people to buy from you. They’re also your opportunity to determine if you want to sell to them!

It’s not just about them saying yes; you have to say yes, too!

If you’ve never worked with a client who was a really bad fit, you probably won’t understand why it’s so hugely important to make sure they’re right for you.

When you’re struggling to find clients it’s sooooo easy to say yes to people because they’re willing to work with you. There’s an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach, trying to tell you it’s going to end badly, but you ignore it.

It’s very easy to say yes!

The fact that people are saying yes to you, are willing to work with you, value you, and believe you can help them is a very seductive feeling.

And sometimes there’s no warning, they may even be the perfect client at the start, but somewhere along the way, things start going badly. They fail to show up for their calls, they’re late paying their invoices, it seems everything you do annoys or frustrates them, while they have you tearing your hair out.

Or perhaps you simply have a clash of personalities, one that wasn’t evident from your initial emails.

It doesn’t matter the cause, once you’ve had a few clients like this you’ll understand why your discovery calls are so vital for you, as well as for your prospects.


They’re For Discovery, Not Coaching

It’s seriously easy to fall into the habit of giving people free coaching calls. Like a free trial run before they buy.

This is not what a discovery call is for, and it’s not a good idea. When you’re on a discovery call your mission is discovering whether you’re right for each other.

That’s it.

Over the call, you’ll discuss their lives, and may even touch on subjects that are similar to what you’d talk about in a coaching call. But if you go into full coaching mode, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

People often feel loads better after one coaching call and feel like maybe they don’t need more. At least, not right now. If you give them an hour of free coaching, they have no immediate incentive to signup for more.

If you offer any kind of service it’s really important to give people a taste of what you can do, but not a three-course meal, complete with wine and a few mai tais.

You want them to end the call hungry for more!


Walk Them Through Your Process

Instead of coaching, give prospects a ‘lite’ version of your offer, which walks them through it. You want them to come away with a really clear understanding of how you work.

Talk strategies for addressing their problems, and give them a really quick win.

That may seem contradictory when I’ve said not to coach, but there really aren’t any ‘quick fixes’ to most of life’s problems. You’re not going to solve your prospects big pain point in 20 minutes. But if you can give them a small victory it will not only make them feel good (and naturally want more of that!), it will also prove that you can genuinely help.

Explain what you’ll work on with them, and run through everything they can expect to ensure there’s no confusion. Highlight the benefits of every step of the journey, and use the opportunity to inspire them with confidence in you and your process.

One thing loads of people forget to do is talk prices.

Yes, really!

It can feel really ‘salesy’ and a bit crass, but you can’t presume they know what you charge, and it needs to be clear. When you have your prices on your website you often assume prospects have already looked at them. Even if they have, that doesn’t mean they remember, or that they don’t have questions.

Get really specific.

Tell them exactly how much your offer will cost, and how often. Explain payment plans. Ask if they have any questions and concerns.

It can feel scary doing this, as you’re worried of frightening them off, but remember this:

If they’re your ideal client, they will pay what you ask without complaint.

They may need to take a beat to figure out how they’re going to pay for it, but that’s not the same as thinking you’re asking too much.

All that being said, leave the price talk to the end. Make sure they know exactly what they’re getting before you tell them how much it’s going to cost!

If you want even more help nailing your calls, check out my free discovery call scripts - just download them and use the scripted questions to tease out everything you need to totally rock your sales.


How to Create More In Your Business: Tips for Female Entrepreneurs

One of my mantras for 2018 is create first.

For some of you creatives that might seem redundant. Or silly. ‘Cause you always create first. It's your natural state.

But not I.

I'm a consumer. Particularly of information. As we were all taught to be. I have always been an incredibly devoted learned — primarily through books. (I was one of those kids that would upset her parents because I wouldn't stop reading and come out of my room. And then when i did come out of my room I was still reading.)

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My love of education is a beautiful characteristic in many ways. Over the years my head has been filled with useful information and a love for learning.

But my head has also been filled with a ton of useless information. And a sort of perfectionism of feeling like I need to know everything before I can get started on something.

As an entrepreneur, this is often a detriment that slows me down.

Is there some value to this?

Of course.

But the truth is that for creatives and entrepreneurs (and creative entrepreneurs) there's so much of value. So much content. So much creativity already inside of us that often it's not necessary that we learn how to do everything right before we start.

If you're anything like me, you'll always be a student. Your thirst for knowledge will never dry up. However, there are ways to counterbalance your consuming with creating. Here are three tips:

Tip 1: Consume information that will help you understand and overcome the resistance to creating.  

Make a point of reading books and consuming information that will help you overcome the resistance, motivate you, and inspire you. Consume information that makes you want to hop out of that cozy worn spot on the couch and over to your desk to work.

The Art of War: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield gave me an understanding of what was happening to me — why I didn't want to take action on the things that I know I really do want to take action on.

Resistance.

Resistance is an invisible force that, "cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It's a repelling force. It's negative. It aims to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work."

Resistance is also internal, insidious, implacable, and impersonal, infallible, universal, and fueled by fear:  "Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance."

Ah, fear. Of course.

Elizabeth Gilbert describes fear in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear:

My fear was a song with only one note — only one word, actually — and that word was “STOP!” My fear never had anything more interesting or subtle to offer than that one emphatic word, repeated at full volume on an endless loop: “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!...I also realized that my fear was boring because it was identical to everyone else’s fear. I figured out that everyone’s song of fear has exactly the same tedious lyric: “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!’ True, the volume may vary from person to person, but the song itself never changes, because all of us humans were equipped with the same basic fear package when we were being knitted in our mothers’ wombs.

That describes me. And may describe you. And probably describes a lot of us. That's why it's poignant, relevant, and interesting.

On some level, it's easy enough to recognize that it's fear holding you back from what you want to create in your life. But seeing it on a page. In such an eloquent way. It allows for a shift. A little bit of magic, if you will.

It is natural to feel fear. About the things we create. And about putting them out into the world for other people to see. And potentially criticism. The things that we make ourselves are so precious and personal. It's like a small piece of you that you're making available to others. And for others to harshly judge — well, of course, that feels terrifying.

Yes, that fear is part of what makes us prefer to consume rather than create.

If I'm just taking in more information…
...I don't have to put myself at risk because I'm not sharing anything I've created
....I can learn from other people what they did what worked, and I'll do it exactly like them so that I too can be successful.
...I can appear "busy" and "productive" but don't have to dig into my creative mind and heart.

But calling a spade a spade. Recognizing that you're more than your fear and your basest instincts, (Big Magic reminds us that tadpoles also have this fear response) can be enough to inspire creation. And begin developing courage.

And courage is one of the antidotes to this fear and resistance.

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The other?

Turning Pro.

The Art of War prescribes treating creative endeavors with ten principles one would take from any other professional job:

  1. Show up every day
  2. Show up no matter what
  3. Stay on the job all day
  4. Committed over the long haul
  5. The stakes are high and real
  6. Accept remuneration for labor
  7.  Don't over-identify with job
  8. Master the technique of the job
  9. Have a sense of humor about job
  10. Receive praise our blame in the real world

It all sounds rather drab and rote, but there's a reason for that.

Showing up daily to create allows for a transformation to happen. Eventually, you don't have have to rely on forcing yourself to do the work, but forces outside of you begin to support you:

...when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen...A process is set in motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose...this is the other secret that real artists known and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attract iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.
This is the point we’re trying to reach. Where work and creation feel fun. When we’re in the flow. The flow doesn’t have to be this amorphous, vague concept. Instead, it can be something that you manufacture by showing up and doing the work.

Which takes me to the next point…

Tip 2: Decide on your creating and create first. Consistently.

You don't necessarily have to go from 0 to 60. But you do need to start.

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Decide to create.

Meaning how much are you going to commit to every day. Make sure it's something that you can stick to.

Because here's the thing: even if you're not doing a ton every day, you'll feel the compound effect of your efforts so long as you're consistent.

It's about training your body and mind so that you don't give in to your resistance all the time.

Because here's what happens to most people initially. They start something, and they're not getting any attention for it.

They're doing their work for a period and no one cares. No one pays attention. Because people don't yet have a reason to pay attention.

But when you keep going, people eventually start to take notice.

There are countless stories of people who reached their level of success from showing up consistently.

We look at people and think that they're an overnight success story, but upon a closer look, we see that they've been showing up consistently for months or years.

And here's a practical exercise to get things going…

Tip 3: Write morning pages

Morning pages are an exercise I first learned from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, a book for artists that has value and advice for anyone stuck or unfulfilled in their work. Anyone experiencing Resistance.

Here it is: in a journal, first thing in the morning just free form write for three pages in your notebook. Just write whatever comes up for you. No need to edit or censor, or make it beautiful, you're just writing and getting it all out. No one else will see it. It's just stream of consciousness.

The first few days I did this, all I could think about was the dreams I had or my plans for the day. But after a few days, it shifted. I would get ideas. I would have clarity. It was a little bit of magic I could experience first thing in the morning.

Creative thinking comes during that early morning time. The light bulb moments happen more readily.

For me, it's also helped me feel more organized and lessen anxiety. Plus it puts me in motion. After spending time doing this simple exercise that takes around 25 minutes, I'm prepared to work. I want to work.

Here are some of the other benefits:

  • Writing morning pages center and clear your mind. We all have tens of thousands of thoughts going through our brain each day. Many of them are repetitive. Doing a sort of brain dump first thing in the morning can help you sift through some of the muck so you can think more constructively and creatively.
  • They can help silence your inner critic
  • They lessen resistance
  • It's grounding
  • Helps generate ideas
  • Boosts productivity

It's unnecessary creation. Writing just for the sake of writing.

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Part of my struggle is there's a level of perfectionism. Needing to do things right. And always wanting to get "there." Morning pages are about the process. You're never sharing them with anyone. (And Cameron suggests you not even re-read them yourself).

You're a powerful creator, you simply need to create. Create first.

How To Get Your First Clients Without Spending Money

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When you’re a brand new entrepreneur searching for your first clients it’s easy to believe you need a fancy system in place to find them. You study all the shiny software and try to create a seriously intense marketing plan. You probably believe this is the only way to land clients. That all new business owners have to go through this.

Like it’s a rite of passage, and requires a lot of blood, sweat, tears, struggle, and money.

But the truth is, if you have something of value to offer people, you can start working with clients right now.

No bells and whistles required.

The trickiest part of being a new entrepreneur is knowing when to start charging people. Once you wrap your head around that, and turn your attention to finding clients, it’s a lot simpler than you might think.

The Easy Way To Get Your First Client: Just Start

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
- Arthur Ashe

The key to getting started is to just start.

You have to begin where you are, with what you have.

Really, there’s no other way to do it.

You can wait until you have this fancy software system, or that awesome qualification, or a million other things, but all you’re really doing is avoiding.

At some point, you are going to have to take the plunge. It doesn’t matter if it’s now or a year from now, it’s always going to be a big, scary leap.

The sooner you start, the sooner you get the ball rolling, the sooner you get successful.

It’s that simple.

So stop for a second and think: Who is there in your life right now that could potentially use your help?

Grab a pen and piece of paper, right now, and come up with a list of ten people you already know, who you would love to help.

They don't have to be people you know particularly well.

It could be the girl you met in yoga the other day, or your bestie.

There are no requirements for this other than you wanting to work with this person, and having something to offer them.

For example, if you want to start coaching people in business, you’re probably not going to be able to do much for your brother, who created a 7 figure startup overnight and is currently jet setting around the globe on his latest book tour.

BUT, I bet you’ve got a boatload of amazing advice for your brother’s best friend, the one who’s suuuuper jealous of his success and wishes she had her own amazing business.

How I Got My First Clients

When I first started my business I thought about some of the female entrepreneurs I’d gone to college with.

I knew I was interested in working with women entrepreneurs, so even though I wasn’t particularly close with the ones I knew, I reached out. It was really simple; I just zipped them a message asking if they’d like me to block out some time for them on my calendar, now that I was coaching people professionally.

They all said yes!

After that I thought about some people I'd known in high school. I’d seen on LinkedIn that they were hunting for jobs, and thought, “I like these people. I’d love to chat with them. And I can help them.”

If you want to get your first clients, you just need to start talking to people.

Start having conversations.

Offer people powerful advice and they WILL want more. They’ll want to know how they can continue getting your awesome wisdom.

Not everyone is going to be interested in continuing to work with you, but that’s okay.

You’re not meant to serve everyone, and you won’t want to work with all of them either!

But if you start putting yourself out there, and having these conversations, you'll start getting clients.

Tell The World You’re Ready For It

The biggest hurdle between you and your first client is making the decision that you actually want them.

Once you’ve decided you do, you have to make a bit of an effort. You might not end up working with the people you first reach out to, but that doesn’t matter. When you start putting your energy into finding clients, the universe takes notice.

That effort, that energy, is telling the universe, “I’m serious. I’m ready for this!”

If you make the unequivocal declaration that you want to work with people, by starting to work with people, the world will line itself up with you.

And your new clients will line themselves up right along with it.

Make your list of 10 people, reach out to them, and give them some time on your calendar.

Build Your Support Network

Your friends and family may know people who need exactly what you’re offering, even if they don’t need it themselves.

My first clients were mostly friends of friends, and people who knew me in some way. Telling the people who already know, like, and trust you (or know someone who does!) about your new enterprise is a great first step in building your confidence in what you’re creating.

For example, if you’re starting a biz as a wedding photographer, you may not have any friends currently planning on getting married. But it’s very likely that between friends, family, and colleagues, somebody you know, knows someone who is.

More than that, you’ll almost certainly find a couple trying to keep their costs down, who are open to working with someone looking to build their portfolio and gain experience.

You’re not a huge risk for them, because you have a mutual friend, and there’s a huge benefit for them in working with you as it will help them save money (check out my post on pricing when you first start out for more details on this!).

Likewise, if you’re a health coach looking to support people losing weight, you will have someone in your network that currently needs help with that. It might be someone you know directly, or a friend of a friend, but when people need something, they are very willing to accept help when it’s offered.

So offer it!

This is true of pretty much any service. If you’re starting out as a web designer, a writer, social media manager, whatever, there will be people who need help with the service you want to offer.

It doesn’t matter what you’re offering, there is always someone you already know who needs it.

Or at the very least, someone known to someone you know.

Reality Is What You Make It

Entrepreneurship is soooo rewarding, but it can also get kinda lonely. One thing I figured out early on is that there are two types of people in your life: the ones who are super supportive of your efforts, believe in you, and share your vision (even if they don’t always understand it!) and the skeptics.

When you’re seeking out new clients, use your discretion.

You know that one friend you have who always poo poos everyone else’s ideas, goals, and dreams?

You know the one, they’re constantly negative (even when good things are happening), and perpetually caught up in some huge drama (which is always ‘worse’ than whatever is going on with you and your other friends).

People like this often have many great qualities - you wouldn’t be friends with them otherwise, right? But don’t count on them for support.

In fact, don’t even mention your new endeavor to them yet.

Starting your own business is a huuuuge change. It’s part of the reason we put off starting - change is scarier than the Night King riding an undead dragon!

Some people can handle change. They see potential in it. Others struggle with it more, seeing only the possible negative outcomes.

People who don’t know you or support you may try to keep you grounded “in reality”, which really just means keep you from exploring what’s possible.

The truth is, you can be, do, or have whatever you desire.

Reality is what you make it.

It can be difficult for some people to see this, particularly if they’re not willing to take risks, and really work on the tough stuff. Change feels impossible because the work needed to make it happen doesn’t feel achievable, or simply doesn’t interest them.

It’s easy for someone with this mindset to project it onto others and assume the same is true for them. They believe their reality is also your reality. When you start describing something they can’t envisage ever doing themselves, it’s unachievable, and they try to talk you out of it.

“I’m just trying to be realistic.”

“Yeah, but that’s not reality is it?”

“It’s a nice thought, but dreams don’t pay the rent!”

You don’t need to hear things like this!

Starting a business is hard enough without all that negativity. The good news is that you don’t have to share what you’re creating with people unless you choose to.

It’s easy to sidestep the issue.

Be selective in who you choose to speak to about your new business.

Get in touch with the people who have supported and encouraged you in the past. Friends and family you know are always supportive of others, and positive and enthusiastic when it comes to change.

And try not to resent the people you can’t share it with; they’re not purposefully trying to bring you down.

They probably genuinely believe they’re looking out for you and helping. But the result will be making you feel bad. You’ll start second guessing yourself, doubts will creep in, and you’ll put everything off a little bit longer.

What To Ask And How To Ask It

When you talk to people, be specific in what you say. Let them know exactly how you can help each other. Keep it short, simple, and direct. Here are two examples:

“I’m sooo excited about my new photography biz, do you know anyone who needs a wedding photographer? I need to build my portfolio, gain some practical experience, and collect testimonials, it would be a massive help if you could put me in touch...”

“I’m suuuper excited to be taking on my first coaching clients, do you know anyone who is looking to lose weight and create a new, healthy lifestyle? I need to test out the amazing new health plan I’m developing, gather some success stories, and build my confidence, I would be hugely grateful if you could put me in touch...”

Swap out the specifics and keep the tone light and positive, while still very clearly explaining what you’re doing, what you need, and how they can help you.

The Targeted Way To Land Your First Ideal Clients

Talking to people you already know is a great way to get the ball rolling. But if you want to build your business fast, and make sure you are doing exactly what you want it to be doing, there are a few other things you can do.

Step 1: Know Your Ideal Client

These steps will not only land you clients, but land you your ideal client. But you can’t do that until you know exactly who that is, so get a really solid understanding of who your ideal client is, and what they want. Check out my post on How To Determine Your Ideal Client And Why It’s Important for more info on this!

Step 2: Get Crystal Clear On Your Outcomes

What exactly are you going to be achieving for people? What can they expect from your process? Do you have any specific methodologies you favor, or a signature service/style you’re developing?

If these are your very first clients, you probably don’t have anything to demonstrate how well your way of doing things works. Consider trying it out on yourself first! Can you take great photographs of your friends, family, dogs, or the elephants at the zoo, to demonstrate how good you are with a camera? Can you build your own website and ensure it’s utterly perfect to showcase your web developer skills? Or maybe you’ve already overhauled your own diet and lifestyle and are seeing amazing results.

Get creative. How can you pin down the exact things people will get out of working with you? How can you make them tangible?

Step 3: Create An Irresistible Offer

Once you’re suuuper clear on what you’re offering, package it up in a way that is really appealing to people. Even if you don’t have a physical product, you can still create ‘package’ services.

Packaging up your offerings with a clear outline of everything people will receive (whether it’s the number of coaching calls and sessions, or the number of photography prints) will make it easier for people to buy. If you can add complementary extras all the better.

Unsure what to add to your packages? Think about the practical things your new clients will need in order to make the most out of what you’re offering. How about offering unlimited email support, or a weekly phone catch up? Can you create PDF downloads, tutorials, audios, video, or other content to help them?

Step 4: Create Amazing Content

Speaking of content, the more you create, the more people will find you and reach out to you. There’s no right or wrong way of creating content. You might blog, vlog, or start a podcast. You might dedicate yourself to Snapchat, Instagram, or another social media platform. Exactly what you do and where you do it isn’t nearly as important as getting your content out there.

It’s how people will find you!

Step 5: Put Yourself Out There

Another great way to ensure people find you is to really put yourself out there. Guest blogging, getting featured on sites like The Huffington Post, and gaining press coverage for yourself and your new business will all build your profile and reputation.

See if you can land some speaking gigs in your local area. Offer them for free initially, for the opportunity to get yourself in front of new people, and pitch your offering at the end. Go to local business networking groups and meet other people who are starting up their own businesses.

Step 6: Targeted Networking

In a similar vein is a much more targeted form of networking. Once you’ve identified your ideal client you should have a really good idea of where they love to hang out. Get on social media and find ideal client-specific groups and networks.

Join in. Start talking to people.

Check out my FREE Finding Your First Clients Checklist for a detailed breakdown of exactly how to target your ideal clients on Facebook (without spending any money!).

Step 7: Listen Keenly, Offer Freely

One of the huge benefits of really getting involved in online groups and taking and interest, is the opportunity to share your knowledge.

You don’t have to pitch people, just get yourself known to them and when they ask what you do, tell them. Offer your expert advice when people ask.

You will find people start to remember you for your specific talent, and come to you for help. The next time they need someone who does what you do, you’ll be the first person they think to ask.

And the next time someone asks if they know someone in your area, you’ll be the first person they recommend!

Letting people genuinely get to know you will do a lot more to help you than just dropping in once a week to post a promotion.

Be a better listener than you are a talker, letting people explain their situations, problems, concerns, and share their hopes, fears, and wins. When appropriate, offer your help, but when you do, offer it freely.

Yes, it feels counterintuitive, but if you offer your services freely right at the start, when you do start charging you can immediately charge what you’re worth!

And Finally...

Your first clients may come to you quickly and easily. Or, they may take a bit more work. Your mindset is incredibly important. You must know, believe, and be excited to assist people. If you have a conflicting energy about it, it’s going to be much harder to attract the right clients.

If you’re looking for extra help getting started, join the FREE live workshops I’m teaching November 28th, 29th, & 30th on How to Master Your Mindset & Marketing to Fully Book Your Creative, Coaching, or Online Biz (Even If You’re Still in Your 9-5).

10 Ways Your Brand Can Voice A Powerful Message

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“Everyone wearing a pink sweater, look here!”

Clear, definite direction for specific people — this is what branding is all about!

You may already know that. A HUGE mistake I see people making, though, is thinking that means your visual branding alone. Yes, we recognize brands first and foremost by their colors, fonts, logos, and the kind of images associated with their content, products and services.

Buuuuuut, that’s only telling ½ of the love story between your dreamboat clients and your business. The other ½ of the story, that’s just as vital, and probably even more important: your brand message.

The message of your brand includes a lot of different components, including:

  • Your brand values

  • Your brand story (and often your personal stories too!)

  • A consistent tone your ideal clients instantly recognise and respond to (just like they respond to your colors and logo!)

  • A language that really resonates with your tribe, to the point that they’re thinking, “how the heck is she reading my mind like that?”

All of these things together form your brand voice.

Brand Voice Can Be More Important Than Visual Branding

‘Cause visual branding draws people in, but it’s your words that do the heavy lifting: selling.

Not all brands have a consistent visual ‘look’. They may not have a logo at all. Their color palette could be non-existent, or extremely broad, leading to their appearance seeming a bit messy. They might lack a particular tone and sensibility, or any kind of consistent touch points that exist across all their platforms (websites, customer interactions, packaging, advertising, etc).

And yet, they still have a very recognisable brand.

But if you tried to pinpoint what it is about them that’s so recognizable, you’d struggle, or come up with a single slogan, or logo, that is used consistently but it the only thing that stays the same.

Here a great example: Disney.

They have a really recognisable logo, but it appears in a million different forms.

They use a castle, but it’s not always the same castle.

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Sometimes they don’t use the castle at all. Sometimes they use Mickey Mouse, and again, it’s not always the same version!

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Sometimes they just use Mickey’s ears, or a stylised version of his head.

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And sometimes it’s just the text, and then only ‘Disney’, not ‘Walt Disney’ as used in the full logo.

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Sometimes it’s just the distinctive Disney ‘D’ and nothing else!

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And although the font remains the same wherever they use it, the colours and embellishments of the word change massively,

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Disney has an astonishingly consistent brand, but visually it’s all over the place. It’s bright and colorful and changes character depending on what they’re promoting, yet it is still, somehow, completely consistent.

Now you might be thinking, “Ohmigosh, I never even noticed that! But, ovi, I’d recognize Disney anywhere. How’d they do that?!”

It’s all about the voice.

Many of the best, most popular brands, achieve complete brand consistency with nothing but the power of their voice, and the power of their brand message.

If you think about Disney it always has a slightly dreamy quality to it. It’s bright, colourful, magical, filled with the awe and wonder you experience as a child, that’s somehow carried through into adulthood. It’s charming innocence and a guaranteed good time. It’s the sense that anything is possible, that everything is achievable, and that the world is a fundamentally good place; you just have to know where to look for the magic.

That’s not something that can be conveyed with a logo alone.

It’s the message carried in everything Disney does that has created and honed this feeling over the years.

It’s the voice.

Voice is something that far too many solopreneurs and new entrepreneurs overlook. If you don’t take the time to really explore and consider your brand’s voice, it’s message, you’re not necessarily setting yourself up for failure, but you’re not setting yourself up for success either.

You may be doing well without a clear voice, but I guarantee you’re not doing as well as you could be doing if you really focussed on this.

If you invest that time, and hone a really clear voice, you can give your brand a suuuuuper powerful message.

And that, my friend, will only carry you to even greater success.

What is your brand voice?

Your brand voice is the part of your branding that expresses the personality of your business and sets your brand apart.

Like a person, your brand has characteristics that should be expressed through all aspects of its identity. That includes your visual branding, as well as your voice, but in many ways it’s a lot easier to create a consistent visual brand than it is to craft a truly consistent voice with a powerful message.

We often underestimate just how difficult it is. As a solopreneur you may be tempted to skip developing your voice.

“My brand voice is already defined: it’s me. And I’m saying it, so it’s already me - I don’t need to do anything!”

But it’s not quite that simple.

If you don’t take the time to get clear on your brand voice, it can lead to inconsistency and confusion with your clients.

As normal humans, yes, we have a voice, personality and character traits, but they’re far broader and more nuanced than the voice of our brand.

Even if you are your brand, is your brand the whole of you?

There’s an awful lot that goes into a complete person, and since you’re here reading these words I’ve written, I already know you’re pretty awesome ;)

Waaaay too awesome, multifaceted, and complex to condense every-single-little-thing into a clear and persuasive brand identity.  

Rather, your brand might be focusing on certain aspects of your personality. We can have a much wider variation in our personalities than we want to include in our brand.

For example, before I became a coach, I was a lawyer. I’m still a lawyer - all that training doesn’t just vanish because I switched career tracks. That means I can be very serious, overly intellectual, with a focus on all the possible things that could go wrong.

My brand as a coach isn’t that! As a coach, I’m much warmer. My sensitive, spiritual, supportive, and my intuitive side is much more present in my coaching brand that it ever has been in the part of me that practices law.

Brands have personalities of their own. They’re not straight copies of the personality of their creator.

Here are some examples of brand personalities:

  • Cordial, but reserved

  • Humble and generous

  • Aggressive and direct

  • Bold and energetic

Clarity on brand personality would answer the following questions about the brand:

  • The brand’s core values

  • The brand’s passions

  • What the brand is striving for

  • What the brand finds fascinating

  • The brand’s guilty pleasures

The Limitations Of Having No Voice

If you don’t have a defined brand voice and message, it may limit you in terms of growth.

It’s possible that, right now, you’re a one-woman show in your business. If so, that’s fantastic; but if you’re learning and growing, it may not be that long until you’ll have a whole team of people supporting you. In which case, you will definitely need to be clear on the voice of your brand, because there’s only one of you!

You can’t expect other people to perfectly emulate you in order to ‘be the brand’.

How To Ensure Your Brand Voice Is You

“Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else.” - Judy Garland

Despite the fact your brand voice isn’t as simple as being just you it still has to be you. You’ve gotta be completely comfortable with it, or you won’t be able to advocate for your brand.

More than that, the easiest way to ensure consistency in your voice and message is to be genuine. Your brand must be a true reflection of you, partly for the sake of transparency and being honest with your clients, but largely because it doesn’t work otherwise.

People can see through the phony brands and personas people adopt to sell stuff. They might buy into your brand if it’s not genuine, but they won’t stick around.

It won’t take them long to see through the charade.

So here’s where people struggle with this:

When you admire other entrepreneurs and creatives, and read all their stuff, you start to sound like them.

It’s like learning from a teacher or college professor — you pick up their arguments, expressions, and view point. That’s part of what makes them a good teacher. Part of what makes you love the people you follow online - coaches, mentors, celebs, whoever - is their unique view of the world and how they convey that.

And it influences you.

That’s not a bad thing!

But if you’re not careful you can find yourself sounding more like them (at least sometimes) than yourself. Your brand becomes an odd mash up of the people you admire and love. Not only will that be inconsistent and ingenuine, it makes honing a distinct voice for your brand tougher than a $5 steak.

The easiest way to make sure you don’t sound too much like anyone else?

Stop reading their stuff while you’re creating!

Yep, just click that little X at the top corner of the blog. Pause the podcast. Stop your scrolling. Close Insta.

Now, now, don’t get worked up! I don’t mean forever.

That doesn’t mean you can’t ever read other people’s stuff or do research, but it is very easy to get your head clogged with other people’s voices.

And here’s a distinction: It’s not just about other people’s ideas -- it really is more about how it’s said.

Most things have already been said.

There really isn’t any such thing as an original idea anymore.

That’s ok.

If you haven’t said it yet, then there’s still a unique way for it to be said, even if the notion isn’t itself unique.

Say it your way!

You have your own voice, message, and story. There’s no reason for you not to share it just because someone else has had a similar idea or experience before.

It is, however, important that you do share it in your own special way. Here are a few easy ways to do exactly that:

  • Don’t just research your topics and parrot the information you found. Weave your own experiences into it, think about your perspective, use that to make it completely unique.

  • Use your own analogies. Your life should inform your teaching.

  • Use your stories to develop your voice into something nobody else could possibly replicate - you’re the only one who has those stories!

  • Don’t read other people’s stuff while you’re writing your own content.

  • If you’ve done research, and want to use a point, phrase it in a way you would actually speak. Use your own words, expressions, examples, and ways of explaining or presenting the facts.

  • Just say what you want, in your own voice.

  • An easy way of testing it? Say it out loud! If you feel ridiculous, it’s prob because you’re not speaking in your voice.

Defining Your Brand Voice

A well-defined brand voice will allow you to understand how your brand will behave in any situation. From cocktail party banter, to apologies for a mistake, to Tweets.

Once you understand the personality of your brand, you will always know how it should sound, in any situation. Here are a few example of definitions of brand voices - don’t feel you need to pick one of these, they are just to give you ideas:

  • Intelligent: geared to an intelligent audience but not overly complicated or complex.

  • Courageous: short dynamic statements that reveal a willingness to confront issues.

  • Inspiring statements.

  • Innovative ideas.

  • Sincere sentiments.

  • Down to earth.

  • Friendly: upbeat and positive. Open and accessible.

  • Tone down overly professional

  • Conversational.

  • Inquisitive - always asking questions.

Once you’ve settled on a definition of your brand, go through the various situations you will need your brand to have a clear way of getting your message across, and ask yourself, WWMBD?

What would my brand do?

For a great example of this, have a read of this interview with Warby Parker’s Copy Director, Molly Young, who describes the personality of the brand perfectly:

“Warby Parker is the person you want to sit next to at a dinner party. They are funny and smart, and they get up to do the dishes.”

How can you make your brand’s personality come to life like this?

For specifics on exactly how to outline your brand voice, download my FREE Brand Voice Workbook!

Brand Voice Vs. Brand Tone

It’s important to understand the difference between the voice and the tone of your brand.

Your Brand Voice is the overall style that your brand expresses.

Your Brand Tone is the variation in voice used to reflect a particular attitude, or respond to a specific situation. The tone is an expression of of your brand’s character to the specific audience or situation at hand.

Your tone changes all the time. It must change -- it’s how you express empathy and relevance.

While the tone of your brand can change depending on context, your brand voice should be consistent.

For example, when you make a first time sales pitch, you’re likely to be upbeat and positive. When you’re onboarding a new client, you’ll offer cheerful encouragement. In an emergency response to a client you’re more likely to be brief, precise, and careful.

Another brand that is really transparent about their voice and has a FANTASTIC brand guide is MailChimp. They have a really detailed breakdown of everything that makes the MailChimp brand voice, from the cheeky high fives to the types of content used. Their guide to tone and voice is particularly useful for understanding the difference.

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10 Ways To Create A Brand Voice With A Powerful Message

Here are some tips so that you can develop a unique and genuine brand voice.

  1. Be consistent - whatever you decide on, stick to it!

  2. Speak the language of your ideal client - hang out with them in their natural habitat and learn the words and phrases they use. Incorporate that into your brand voice to make it relatable.

  3. Maintain professionalism (even if your voice is relaxed and laid back, it needs to be professional - i.e. written content should always be fully proofread, you need a clear understanding of unsuitable language to use, and subjects to cover -  will you swear? If so which words are okay and which aren’t? Will you use slang and abbreviations?)

  4. Develop unique terminology and expressions to explain your core concepts and signature offerings. It will make your voice distinct, avoid cliches, and help solidify the uniqueness of your offerings.

  5. Use references that are completely relatable and relevant to your ideal client (i.e. if you’re using pop culture references, find out what TV shows, music, films etc. they like and use those!).

  6. Be authentic and trustworthy. Never say anything you’re not completely comfortable with. Make sure every word your brand ‘speaks’ is totally true to you, and TRUE!

  7. Advocate for causes you are passionate about (especially if they are relevant to your niche).

  8. Sparkle with star quality and your own unique flair - stand out rather than blending in!

  9. Establish an ethos and stick to it - what are your values?

  10. Tell stories - personal and professional stories will help you really personalize your message while demonstrating you know what you’re doing!

  11. Create a special document where you keep track of the things you commonly say, as well as the things that your clients commonly say (you can use things like Facebook groups and Amazon book reviews to give you more info on that).

For a more detailed breakdown of exactly how to create a powerful message, download the FREE Brand Voice workbook now. Also, be sure to sign up for my brand new FREE Live training: How to Master Your Mindset & Marketing to Fully Book Your Creative, Coaching, or Online Business happening November 28th, 29th, & 30th. Click the link here to sign up.

Can I Start Charging In My New Business Without Experience?

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One of my 1-on-1 clients asked me this the other day, and I thought it was about time I shared my thoughts with my readers.

I know there are loads of you out there, dreaming of starting a business, who desperately want the answer to be, ‘Yes, of course, go for it!’, but it’s time for a little truth talk.

I might not make friends with this one. Because I’m not gonna say what you want to hear.

I’m gonna be real with you.

But I’ll soften the blow by starting with some good news: every single entrepreneur started out with zero experience (including me!).

Every single entrepreneur began by asking this question, and finding themselves suuuuper frustrated by the answer.

“But I know exactly what I’m doing!”

“I deserve to be paid for my time!”

“If this were another job it wouldn’t even be a question!”

True, true, true.

Nobody’s questioning your worth or abilities!

But here’s my take on the question (and there are other opinions): you probably shouldn’t be charging until you have experience.

Why You Need Experience Before You Start Charging

That probably isn’t what you want to here. But the reason is also probably not what you think.

The real question is not whether you’re capable of doing your work well enough to charge peeps, but whether you’re confident enough in your abilities.

Having the confidence of knowing you’re able to truly help people and provide a valuable service comes from experience.

It comes from having clients you can look at and say, “Yes, I helped them! I’ve totally got this.”

When you start asking for money it’s uber important you believe in yourself. If you don’t, potential clients may pick up on it.

They might not hire you.

Even if they do, you’ll probably lowball your prices and end up working for peanuts.

You’ll be charging, but nothing like what you’re worth.

Whatever you’re putting out into the world, until you have the confidence that it’s genuinely beneficial, and truly helping people, you’re gonna struggle to land clients and charge what you’re worth.

It’s partly their perception of you and your lack of experience, but it’s mostly a mindset thing.

So, rather than spending the first few years in your biz working for peanuts, I have a better suggestion:

Hold off charging until you have enough experience to be confident in your own abilities, and demonstrate them to potential clients. Then, start charging a premium rate right away.

No peanuts for you.

What They Forgot To Tell You About Entrepreneurship

Taking a plunge and setting up a creative or coaching business is an amazing choice. Coaching is very powerful, rewarding and a great business choice. Creative entrepreneurship is similarly awesome. But there are a few things they don’t tell you when you’re first starting out.

It takes time and effort to build a biz and start earning enough money to support yourself.

If you approach it in the right way, there’s no need for it to take you an age, but it does take time. The initial period when you first start out can be frustrating - you so desperately want to get ‘there’, but you’re not there yet, and that can feel like failure.

It can also make you impatient, and lead to you skipping steps and trying to take shortcuts.

That will likely do nothing but make everything take even longer!

There are a couple of options:

  • Start your new creative or coaching business on the side of a paid job.

  • Save up enough to cover a few monthly (longer if you can afford it).

Here’s the truth. Money is a resource.

When you’re starting a new venture money can be a valuable resource. Whether it’s from savings, another form of income, or a supportive family member or spouse, having funds available will take a huge amount of pressure off your new business.

You can advance waaaay faster when you’re able to invest in courses, coaching, and other support for your business.

Here are the four things I did that made all the difference when I was starting out as a coach:

  1. I worked on my money mindset

  2. I believed in what I was capable of achieving (both for myself and my clients)

  3. I invested time in talking to people, connecting, and getting in front of my ideal clients

  4. And I started doing the work.

What To Do With Existing Skills

When I switched career tracks it was a big change. I went from working as a lawyer, employed by a firm, to running my own business.

Big change!

Change can be great, but it’s also a lot. And when you’re focussing on your new zone of genius you can go a bit overboard.

It’s easy to have an ‘all or nothing’ attitude, and ignore everything that came before.

You might not think it’s relevant.

And on the surface, your existing skills might not be directly relevant. But when you dig deeper you will find there are ways your existing experience can complement your new calling as a coach or creative entrepreneur.

Don’t discard everything that came before. Here are a few examples:

Social Media Skills

You don’t have ‘no experience’. Whatever came before your new business (personal or professional), it is experience. For example, if in your corporate job you managed your company’s social media accounts, and were able to build up a huge following of thousands from scratch, that’s a great skill! Put that to work in your new biz right away, and get out there on social media.

Better yet, can you leverage that skill (something demonstrable that you do have experience it) right away, and charge for that? It may not be what you want to do long-term, but if it brings in a little money, and overlaps with the audience you eventually want to work with, it might be a good fit.

If you want to work with entrepreneurs as a coach, the odds are they need help with their social media. That’s a good way to introduce yourself while you build their awareness of you and your experience of the new direction you’re taking.

Writing Skills

If you spent time at university, writing and research are both existing skills you have. Beyond that, a lot of people acquire copywriting skills during the course of other roles without ever really noticing. If you prepared written reports on a regular basis, or managed the creation of content as part of your previous role, you may have spent a lot of time writing.

How can you put those writing chops to work? You could start a blog, and regularly write about the area you’re moving into. But think beyond that. What other forms of written content can you create? Can you get an article featured on a prestigious site or magazine in your niche?

If you’re really good at writing, you could hire out as a freelance writer to clients who overlap the niche you’re moving into.

Look for ways to combine your existing skills with your new biz vision, and create your own unique methods.

Acquire New Experience

If you’re serving other people it’s important to work on your own strengths. To do that, you need to capitalize on your existing strengths, skills, and knowledge, as much as possible.

Then you need to continue to acquire new experience.

This isn’t just true when you’re first starting out - running a successful business requires a long-term commitment to your own personal and professional growth.

If you want your business to go from strength to strength, you need to be the solid foundation of that success, constantly strengthening and growing yourself.

Passion Alone Isn’t Enough

You can absolutely make your passion your paycheck, but passion does not equal moolah.

Your dream only works if you do, and there’s more to building a successful business than simply being passionate about your zone of genius.

This is particularly true of creatives and coaches -- they can be incredibly talented in their craft, but lack the business acumen that would lead to financial success.

In order to make a business out of your passion, you need to combine it with other key things (marketing, branding etc.).

These are the things that make it WORK.

And you need to build all areas of your biz, not just the fun parts.

You might hate marketing, but you’re gonna struggle to land consistent business without it. If you hate technical stuff the thought of building a website probably fills you with terror, but you need one. Just like you need an email list, and fabulous content.

A lot of work goes into building a business. The good news is, most of the stuff that’s outside your passion, your zone of genius, can easily be outsourced.

Delegating is a perfectly viable option!

When To Start Charging

“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Einstein

Anyone who has ever made a name for themselves, in any field, started out without experience. The difference in coaching and creative entrepreneurship to other areas is that, in other areas, it’s reasonable to expect to be paid for your time, even if you’re brand new and you’ve never done the job before.

You learn on the job, and expect to be paid to do it, even if only a starting salary.

But certain areas require experience before they provide a paycheck. Think of all the unpaid internships people take on, in order to ensure they get into their top choice of university, or land their dream job.

Lack Of Experience And Impostor Syndrome

Confidence is soooo important when you’re coaching. If you’re a creative entrepreneur of any kind, having confidence in what you do and how you do it is hugely important.

The problem with starting to coach or sell a product or service when you don’t have any experience, is that you end up feeling like a fraud.

Even if clients believe you know what you’re doing, and happily pay you, impostor syndrome can kick in.

I see this with my coaching clients. Other people are happy to pay them, but deep down they know they haven’t had enough experience doing what they’re selling.

There’s a little voice inside them saying, “You should have more experience!”, and they don’t have a proper retort. ”

You’re teaching something you’ve yet to do yourself. That can feel quite icky.

Business coaching is the perfect example of this. It’s the go-to for so many new coaches once they get their first client. But when you’re just starting out in your own business, without a business background, you have no business experience.

If your business involves a consulting or teaching element, you should have at least done for yourself and a few clients what you purport to help your clients with.

And this isn’t just about education.

You could have formal training and qualifications. Or you could be self-taught, and everything you know comes from your fave business blogs and YouTube.

The bottom line is, at the beginning of your business, you’re better off having experience implementing what you’ve learned before you start charging.

Imagine a few of these scenarios:

  • Trying to teach people to paint, or draw, when you’re only just learning yourself.

  • Teaching people to blog when you don’t have a successful blog of your own.

  • Offering marketing services when your own marketing isn’t really working yet.

  • Selling an online programme to create your next bestseller when you’ve never written a book yourself.

You can’t have proven results until you’ve worked with people, tested out your theories, methods, and all that knowledge percolating in your head.

Real clients are your best credentials.

Rushing Into Coaching

Coaching is an amazing vocation, and incredibly rewarding, but it’s not always a good idea to dive right into it. There are so many other amazing things people need, and if you’ve taken the time to properly identify your ideal client, you should be able to generate some other ideas.

Why not start out doing something related to the coaching you eventually want to do?

Start building your client base and reputation, and gain that all-important confidence and experience.

This can give you a way to start generating some cash and charging for services straight away, without the stress of trying to coach clients when you’re still finding your feet.

There are loads of ways to do this. If you eventually want to coach people in an artistic field, or to create their own art-based business, why not start by selling some of your own artistic creations, or services relating to them?

Start by building your own art-based business.

If you want to coach people in blogging and content marketing, start by building your own amazing blog, and selling your services as a writer.

Look at all the wonderful experience you already have. What can you do really well, right now, that’s related to your ultimate business goal, but isn’t coaching?

Get Experience By Working For Free

Take a few months and set yourself a goal of working with at least ten clients. Come from a place of inspiration and reach out to people you’d be willing to work with for free.

Let them know that you’re gaining experience helping people in a particular way and that’s why you’re not charging.

Here’s the thing about working with people for free: it takes the pressure off you. It also opens up the dialogue between you and the person you’re serving for feedback throughout the process.

You can also ask them to ‘pay’ you in the form of a testimonial, and permission to use your work together as a case study.

They may not agree to the latter, but it’s always worth asking! Even if they’re not comfortable making your work with them public, the experience you gain will be worth it.

You’ll grow in confidence as you work with them. It will give you chance to test out your methods and find the best way of working.

How I Started Charging

As I was going through coach training, I was working with everyone who would let me to get experience, including my mom, my sister, my three closest friends, a legal secretary at my law firm, friends from high school, friends from college, friends from law school, and friends of friends.

I had 100+ coaching conversations with people I’d met online.

THEN I started charging.

Here’s what was awesome about that: I was able to immediately position myself as a high-end coach. I had premium prices from the get go because I felt confident enough to charge higher prices AND I had results and testimonials from the work I’d done for free.

How To Get Experience As An Entrepreneur

This doesn’t just apply to coaching, it’s a great way for any creative entrepreneur to gain some experience when they’re first starting out.

If you’re a wedding photographer, shoot a few weddings for free.

Copywriters often start out working for websites and businesses for free in order to gain experience, build their portfolios, and snag some great testimonials from happy clients.

The same applies to designers, and even service-based businesses.

Whatever you’re offering for free, make sure you track everything. Use the time to get a really clear picture of where each of your clients were when you started working together, and the results you achieved during your time together.

After three or four months you’ll have amazing case studies detailing your methods, tangible results of the things you’ve achieved for you for your clients, and hopefully a boatload of glowing testimonials.

Nobody needs to know they didn’t pay you! You now have the experience, the confidence, proven results, and social proof.

You can start charging!

If you’re unsure how to get testimonials download my FREE Testimonials Cheat Sheet. Aim for ten to start with - that will give you a really solid start.

Get Proven Results Through Content Creation

Another way to bolster your confidence, rep, and ability to charge what you’re worth is to gather testimonials about the results people have gained by using your content.

Create high-value content and post it as a blog, vlog, or podcast. Start using content marketing to build your reputation. Establish a history of amazing content (weekly if you can), including posts packed with advice and freebies.

You don’t have to make all this content available for free forever, but while you’re gaining experience put your best stuff out there.

Think of it as coaching a client for free, but you have the opportunity to reach people you don’t know.

Start building an email list and nurturing your leads, without any agenda. Provide masses of value. Get your audience engaging and communicating with you. Encourage them to comment on your posts, follow you on social media, and gather stories and testimonials about the result they’ve had after following your advice.

Write up every client you work with for free as a case study. Create multiple posts about your experiences working with them. Use each post to prove a point, like:

  • Demonstrating the results you got for a client

  • Comparing different methods and showing what works best

  • Sharing stories of lessons you learned that made you better at what you do.

Use The Time To Find Your Niche

Offering your coaching or other services for free will also help you refine your ideal client.

Double check you’re genuinely happy working with the people you think you want to help. Get really specific about exactly what you want to do, and who you want to do it with - you’ll learn this as you go.

It’s also a fabulous opportunity to develop your own methods and signature style, and to hone your voice and brand.

Refine your offering into a very specific package. You should aim to offer a bespoke service, targeted at your ideal client, that provides something that is (in some way) completely unique to you.

That way, when you start selling, you’re targeting a specific market, with a specific, proven service. This will be a lot more effective than offering open-ended, vague coaching, products, or services.

The truly amazing thing about this is that it will allow you to charge what you’re truly worth, right out of the gate.

You may not be charging immediately, but when you do start there won’t be a peanut in sight!

Find Your Own Coach

Here’s another hint for getting your coaching or creative business off to a flying start: Find your own coach!

Invest in yourself and your business, and discover a coach who can mentor you. Look for someone who can show you the ropes, let you learn from their mistakes, and avoid the common pitfalls experienced by people in your area.

When I first started out I worked with a lot of coaches, specializing in different areas, and invested in multiple courses to get my business to where it needed to be. This was, hands down, the best investment I’ve ever made in my biz (and myself!).

Now I’m on the other side, coaching people who are just starting out.

If you’re looking for a coach to guide you through the establishment of your new business, or to help you uplevel an existing business, click here to schedule a consult with me -- I have two openings for winter 2017-2018!

How To Determine Your Ideal Client (And Why It's Important)

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One of the biggest challenges I hear from creatives, coaches, and online entrepreneurs who are starting and growing a business is, “Ughhh, I don’t have enough clients.”

It’s a tale as old as time (or at least, as old as service-based businesses), you have the creativity, the drive, the talent, and the skills, you just can’t seem to find the right clients.

The biggest reason creative entrepreneurs run into this problem is that they’re looking at it backward: they are focused on searching for customers when they should be pouring their efforts into attracting them. And not just any old clients, but a defined set of ideal clients.

The truth is really simple: your business can (and will!) be a huge success if you can do three things:

  • Determine your ideal client
  • Create content and branding they will love and naturally be drawn towards
  • Convert those prospective ideal clients into paying customers

While these are three different tasks to accomplish you won’t achieve any of them effectively (or at all) if you don’t do the first well.

Why Are Ideal Clients Important?

Before we dive into exactly how you can determine your ideal client, it’s important to be crystal clear on exactly what an Ideal Client is, and why the concept is so important to your business.

Here’s a straightforward definition:

Your Ideal Client is the type of person who discovers the perfect solution to their problems (pain points), or the fulfillment of their needs, in your specific product or service.

Without a super-clear understanding of who your ideal client is, and what they want, you are going to find marketing your business more difficult than fighting white walkers without dragon glass.

Can I be real with you for a sec?

In your business, not everyone will like you.

Don’t take it personally.

There’s nothing wrong with you. Not everyone will like your style, appreciate your particular zone of genius, understand the value of your offerings, or believe they need what you’re selling.

And that’s totally cool.

Because you know what? You aren’t going to like everyone either.

In fact, there are probably a whole boat-load of people you don’t want to work with.

If You’re Talking To Everyone, You’re Talking To No One

When you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, you might find yourself desperate for clients.

You’ll take on anyone and everyone because you have bills to pay, you haven’t experienced the horrors of working with a client that’s a bad fit yet, and you’re slightly addicted to the adrenaline rush you get when you get a new client or customer.

But here’s the thing: hustling hard and taking on everyone you can find will (probably) work in the short term, but it’s not a sustainable marketing plan. It’s no good for you, it’s no good for your clients, and it’s definitely no good for your ROI.

Marketing takes a lot of hard graft and (often) money. When you target your marketing messages at everyone, you’re not speaking to anyone.

When you’re marketing at everyone, you need to use a message that is as appealing as possible to a huge range of people.

That’s not easily done.

There’s no such thing as a universally loved product or service.

All that generic effort creates a message that everyone can understand, but nobody will respond to.

To talk to people at the level needed to convert them into raving fans of you and your business, you need to speak their language. You need to fit perfectly with their needs, wants, and goals.

People are too individual to do this well, while targeting a lot of different people.

Getting really specific in who you want to work with, who your ideal clients are, allows you to craft a marketing message that speaks directly to them.

Once my clients wrap their head around this concept, their next question is obvious: “How do I determine who my ideal client is?”

It’s not nearly as tricky as you might think. With a little thought, you can easily identify your ideal client using three straightforward steps:

Step 1: Perform An Internal Assessment

Before you look externally to find the right people to work with you need to do an internal evaluation.

Creatives, entrepreneurs, and coaches all have one thing in common: they pour a lot of themselves into their businesses.

This is great - it’s usually what makes them successful - but it means that making sure your business, brand, message, and clients are fully aligned with who you are as a person, not just a business, is essential.

An internal audit will show you what is most important to you and how that impacts upon the ideal clients you should be targeting.

One thing to note - it’s possible to have more than one ideal client if you offer different services that do slightly different things. For example, a coaching package for a fledgling entrepreneur isn’t going to be the same as one for a boss babe running a seven-figure biz and looking to kick it up a notch.

Both packages are aimed at coaches, but they are at very different stages in their respective businesses, and so are different ideal clients.

When you ask these questions, there is one you must ask first: Are all my services perfect for exactly the same people?

If the answer is no, don’t panic! All it means is you need to repeat this process for every product or service you have that services a different core function (i.e. helping a new coach get started vs. mentoring a successful coach to even greater abundance).

Know Yourself

It may seem contradictory to say you need to know yourself before you can know your ideal client, but it actually makes a lot of sense. They are your ideal client, the specific type of person you will find most enjoyable, energizing and uplifting to work with. Yes, they will find you to be equally delightful, empowering and inspirational, and what you have to offer will bring huge value to their lives, and solve a fundamental problem they have, but it has to start with you.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to come up with a product or service and then try to fit people into it, rather than determining the right people to work with, identifying their core pain points, and creating products and services that meet those needs.

This is a huge motivation to figure out who your ideal client is; it will help you make your products and services better.

But there’s another component here, namely that you need to have a really clear understanding of what you are capable of offering.

There’s no point selling a product or service if you can’t deliver.

More than that, your offering should play to your strengths, your passions, and your zone of genius.

That is how you will build phenomenal success, and best serve your clients.

So while the specifics of the services you offer should stem from the needs and desires of your ideal clients, your ideal clients should stem from you.

Internal Questions To Discover Your Ideal Client In Yourself

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What am I exceptionally good at?
  2. What am I most passionate about?
  3. What is my Zone of Genius?
  4. Where do these three things converge?
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Consider Your Best Clients

If you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, coach, or creative business owner, you may not have any existing clients. Don’t worry - it’s actually great to figure out your ideal client right at the start. But if you’re already in business and have existing or former clients, it’s time to dig into your interactions with them and figure out which are a great fit, and which you could do without.

Questions To Find Your Ideal Client In Your Existing Clientele

  1. What problem does your product or service solve? Be as specific as possible!
  2. Who currently benefits from your product or service most? Describe these clients in detail.
  3. Who do you want to help most?
  4. Who do you totally love working with?
  5. Who do you really hate working with? (It’s okay to ask this - it doesn’t mean you hate them, just that working with them isn’t your fave!)
  6. Which of your clients has provided you with glowing feedback? Be specific - what do these people have in common?
  7. Which (if any) of your customers have given you poor feedback, actively complained, canceled a service, refused to pay, or asked for a refund? Be specific - what do these people have in common?
  8. If you could spend all your time doing just one type of work, what would it be?
  9. How did your existing clients, good and bad, find you and your business? Is there a common path taken by all your good clients, or all your bad ones?
  10. Are you happy working with your existing clients, or do you want to shift your focus?

The more details you can glean from your existing experience the better. Download my Ideal Client Workbook for a far more in-depth set of questions.

Once you’ve answered all these questions as best you can, go through looking for common themes. The common threads that repeatedly crop up are the beginnings of your criteria for determining your ideal client. A few widespread commonalities you’re likely to find are:

  • A specific gender
  • An age group
  • A particular industry
  • Common mindsets (i.e. you may love people working with a Success Mindset and hate working with pessimists who have a very defeatist outlook)
  • A certain level of business (i.e. you love working with people just starting out in business, or adore mentoring people who are already doing really well)
  • A particular income bracket (e.g. you love working with people who can afford to invest in themselves and their business, and don’t complain about your prices, haggle, or try to get as much bang for their buck as possible, leaving you drained. Alternatively, you might love working with low-income individuals and helping them transform their lives by earning more.)

Understanding Your Competition And USP

Finding your ideal client is one of the most important steps you can take in marketing because it distinguishes who you are targeting.

But that’s only one side of the equation.

You also need to know how your ideal client will distinguish you from your competitors.

  1. What aspects of your products or services are similar to your competition?
  2. What are different?
  3. What are completely, 100% uniquely you?

If you find yourself struggling to answer either of the last two questions, or answering the first with ‘nothing’, think again! The world of digital marketing has a lot of great benefits, but one of its downsides is how crowded and loud it has become.

There’s no such thing as an original idea anymore. That’s doubly true of products and services. Whatever you’re doing, someone else is doing it too.

But the very nature of creatives and entrepreneurs is that they do the stuff other people are doing in new and innovative ways.

Having competition isn’t an issue because the truth is, there is more than enough for everyone. However, you’ve gotta stand out from the crowd so the right people can find you.

The good news is, if you really can’t pinpoint your unique selling point, once you’ve figured out who your ideal client is you will be able to tweak your offerings so they are tailor-made to those exact clients. In doing this, you’re likely to come up with ways of making them unique, even in the crowded digital world.

But I’m betting that uniqueness is already there; it’s just difficult for you to see it yourself. If you’re really struggling, ask your existing clients, friends, and family what makes you different.

Step 2: Check Your Instincts

By now you should have a fairly clear picture of your ideal client. You should have a good idea of who you want to work with and why, and what it is about you that makes them want to work with you. But you’re not done just yet.

You’re (Probably) Not Psychic

The next step is to check that data. Even if some (or all) is based on feedback from existing clients, they are only a small sampling. It’s important to avoid assuming you know what your ideal clients are thinking and feeling, and what they truly need.

A huge mistake I often see people make is creating offers based on their assumptions about what their ideal clients want.

And you know the old saying as to why you should never assume.

This is a huge problem because you end up with a product or service nobody wants.

You’re not going to make that mistake.

Because you’re probably not psychic, it’s a safe bet you don’t actually know what your ideal clients are thinking. So ask them.

Discover Your IC With ONE Question

The second I suggested asking your ideal clients what they want, I’m betting your immediate thought was: “I’ll run a survey!”

Yes, you can absolutely do that. You can list out all the questions you want answered and try to entice your ideal clients to answer with pleas, bribes, and badgering. But there is (in my opinion) a better way.

Talk to people. YES! An actual conversation with someone talking and listening!

Immerse yourself in your ideal clients’ world. Hang out with them, chat with them, start conversations, and ask them specific questions that lead you to discover what they need, and the problems they face.

Here is one question that is an absolute goldmine. Whenever I talk to potential clients, I put a big *BC at the top of the page and ask, “What’s your biggest challenge right now pertaining to…?” (Fill in the blank for whatever area your work helps people with.)

This question is invaluable for your market research. If you ask it often enough, you will see patterns emerging in the answers. You can learn a huge amount about the problems and issues your ideal clients are facing. No more guesswork, this isn’t your voodoo powers at work, you know.

These are your ideal clients’ pain points.

Download my FREE Ideal Client Workbook for more details on exactly how to do this.

Step 3: Create An Ideal Client Avatar

You’ve done the hard part, now comes the fun part.

There's something inspiring about having an avatar for your ideal client. A ‘profile’ similar to what you’d see on LinkedIn or an online dating site.

Consider the core demographics of your ideal client:

  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • Where do they work?
  • What careers are they in?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What are their hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
  • What are their fears?
  • Do they have any common health, wellness or mindset troubles? (i.e. weight problems, mental health concerns, confidence issues, etc.)

Your avatar will depend entirely on the answers you came up with in steps one and two. If it helps, you can find a photograph or image that perfectly captures the essence of your ideal client if this helps you visuals them.

The idea is to see them as a real person. Someone you could take out to coffee for a chat. Because that’s basically what you’re going to be - every time you need to know what direction to take in your marketing, you’re gonna sit down with your avatar and talk it out.

Keep a flash car including all the need-to-know information close at: core demographics, pain points, and where you will find your ideal client.

Put Your Ideal Client Profile Into Action

Would you believe me if I said that loads of coaches and entrepreneurs go to a lot of effort to identify their ideal client, and then fail to do anything with them?

It’s true.

It’s really easy to figure all this stuff out, use it for deciding exactly what you will offer, and then forgetting about it entirely. But your ideal client is vital to every aspect of your business.

It should inform every aspect of your business.

Now you have your ideal client profile you need to put it to work. Your ideal client should infuse all areas, from your designing products and services to creating your branding, crafting content and other marketing, writing your sales language, organizing your customer service and beyond.

To really get actionable and get your ideal client working to supercharge your business, download my FREE Ideal Client Workbook. Use it to fine tune everything you’ve learned in this post, and check out the Action Checklist at the back to make sure you’re putting your ideal client profile to work as much as possible.

How To Transform New Subscribers Into Super Fans

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Here’s a bit of truth talk for you: 30-50% of your leads aren’t ready to buy when they first learn about your business.

I know, bummer. Sorry to be the bad news bear, but here’s the good news: around three-quarters of those leads will be ready to buy down the line. For some, it will be in just a few short months, and for some more like 12-18 months.

It can take time for leads to develop into sales, often more time than we’re willing to allow.

We’re all so impatient. We start a new marketing tactic, and if it doesn’t immediately get people lining up and sleeping outside (the way they do when a new iPhone goes on sale), we give up, thinking it’s not working.

Digital marketing is incredibly powerful, but it may not be instant. To generate long-term success in your creative, coaching, or online business, you need to build a relationship with your audience, and cultivate the know, like, and trust factor s before they will be ready to buy.

It’s like dating. You don’t propose on the first date. You take the time to get to know each other and fall in love. You nurture the relationship.

You need to nurture your leads.

You don’t just need to entice people to sign up to your list. Once they’re on your list, you want to transform them into Super Fans who can’t get enough of you or your products and services.

For that, you need an A-MAAAZING nurture sequence.

Now you may be wondering exactly how to nurture those leads, and ensure as many as possible convert into sales.

What Is A Nurture Sequence?

A nurture sequence is also known as an indoctrination series, welcome series, warm up series, or email funnel.

It’s your chance to connect with your audience, right after they have chosen to become a part of your world. At this time, they are the most interested and excited about what you have to offer. You can take advantage of this time by introducing them more fully to your world and what you have to offer.

If you’re doing it properly, it will take time to put it all together. But that’s essential time to invest, and once done, your new nurture sequence should last six months to a year.

A nurture sequence is a vital element of your marketing strategy. It’s the first direct contact you have with a lead after they have expressed an interest in your business. They may have inquired through your website or signed up to a free opt-in.

By signing up to your list, they have essentially raised their hand and waved, “Hello.”

Your nurture sequence is how you wave back, and totally WOW them in the process.

Prospects all want the same thing: a solution to their problem. What that problem is will vary, but they have a problem (possibly more than one), and they’re looking at you for the answers.

A nurture sequence is a series of automated emails that are sent out after a new lead signs up to your list. These emails are packed with valuable content, along with information about you and your services, which ‘nurtures’ the budding relationship between you and your prospect, ensuring it eventually blossoms into a sale.

The Process of Transforming New Subscribers Into Super Fans

Creating an effective nurture sequence takes some thought and effort, and several different elements that all need to work harmoniously to create a complete system. Although the core of the nurture sequence is a series of emails, you need more than just the emails themselves.

You also need:

  • Content to fill and complement those emails.
  • More content to draw people in and entice them to sign up in the first place.
  • A lead capture and email delivery infrastructure.
  • And a clear path to steer your prospects down, which makes your desired outcome (generally a sale) a really easy choice for them.

If all this sounds like a lot to deal with, don’t worry. Taken together it can feel slightly overwhelming, but when you break it down into the different elements and handle one at a time, it gets a lot easier.

The hardest part is nailing your emails. I’ve created a free Nurture Sequence Bundle, which breaks it down for you step-by-step.

Download it now and work your way through each of the following elements...

Step 3: Capture Your Leads with Lead Magnets

After your lead has been introduced to your world, you want to capture their information so that you can continue building a relationship with them. On your site, there are two main types of lead magnets. One is a larger free offer that can stand on its own. I’m going to refer to that as your Freebie. The other type is adding more value to the content you’ve created — a content upgrade.

Freebie

If you don’t already have a Freebie, it’s time to get creating!

You need one really good freebie that the majority of your ideal clients will jump on immediately. Common forms include eBooks, audio or video trainings, webinars, and mini-courses; your main lead magnet should offer a TON of value.

I like to think of it as a potential moneymaker - it’s SO super valuable that I could easily sell it and make money with it. It just happens to be that I’m making it available for free for a limited time.

If you already have a free opt-in offer available on your site, woohoo, you’re doing great!

But, if I’m being real with you, you’re not quite done.

The more lead magnets you have, the more easily your content will convert into leads.

And the more leads you have, the more valuable your nurture sequence becomes. If you already have one amazing Freebie, fabulous! You’re well ahead of the curve. But you can add new Freebies every few months, or as they correspond with your current offers.

In addition to your Freebies, you’re also going to want to start creating content upgrades.

Content Upgrades

The easiest way to add additional lead magnets to your overall system is through content upgrades. When you’re creating your core content (be it blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc.) you should be thinking of ways to add extra value to the post.

How can you help your readers act on the information you’re giving them? What additional tips and info can you add that make it even more valuable?

Rather than putting that extra value right there in the post, pop it in an easily downloaded file, and include it in your post as an ‘upgrade’.

For example, this post is all about crafting the perfect nurture sequence. To help you act on the advice I’m giving, I’ve created a Nurture Sequence Bundle including a breakdown of all the emails in your nurture sequence, all the elements of the emails, a step-by-step worksheet to craft stories and outline the emails, AND my full nurture sequence so you can see a clear example of how it all works together.

It’s super valuable and I could easily sell it.

But I’m giving it to you for free — this means you can ‘upgrade’ the information you learn on this blog post for free, in exchange for joining my list.

The more posts with content upgrades, the more opportunities and incentives readers have to opt-in. This makes them far more likely to do so and more likely to remain on your list.

And it’s essential they stay on your list because it could take twelve to eighteen months before they’re ready to buy from you.

Step 4: Lead Capturing Capabilities

Once you have a great lead magnet (and eventually magnets) that your audience is clamoring for, you will need to connect your list to your website through signup forms that allow people to opt into your list. You can either do this through the forms and plugins provided by your email service or using a plugin like ThriveLeads or LeadPages.

Step 5: Mailing List

From the sign-up form, the lead’s email needs a home. Without an email list, your nurture sequence has nowhere to go. You can set up an email list with any number of services, like ActiveCampaign, MadMimi, or MailChimp. They will enable you to easily collect email addresses from people interested in your business and place them on an email list.

If you don’t have a list already, it’s time to start one.

If you do have a list, check you are with an email service provider that allows you to easily create and send an autoresponder sequence.

3 Important Things To Remember When Creating a Nurture Sequence

1. Value Before Pitch

Before you jump right into a sales pitch on your first email, pause.

This is a nurture sequence.

You’re not proposing on the first date. You are nurturing your relationship with your prospects, and the last thing they want immediately after signing up is a barrage of emails asking them to buy something.

You need to give them something of value first.

If you’ve set this up properly they will already have claimed something of value when they signed up, in the form of a lead magnet — either a content upgrade or freebie. Make sure you give them what they asked for immediately.

Once they have it, focus initially on providing them with even more value.

A large part of content marketing is educating your audience on the value of your products or services. Use this as an opportunity to do just that. Before you try to pitch anything, send them value-packed content that is really useful for them, and simultaneously explains exactly why the thing you’re eventually going to offer them is invaluable.

Don’t be brazen about it, be subtle.

If, for example, you eventually want to offer them a course on how to find clients on Instagram, you would ensure all your initial content was focused on the purpose and nature of Instagram marketing. You would educate your audience on how vital and potentially profitable it is, so that when you finally do pitch them that service, they’re at a point where they are desperate for exactly what you’re offering.

2.  Goals, Planning, And Timing

There’s a reason we call it a nurture sequence. Your emails need to go out in a particular order. You also have to time them right. Send too many, too fast, and it’s like the guy calling you 11,073 times right after your first date.

It’s annoying.

You don’t like it.

Your leads won’t like it either. They’ll say, “No, thank you!” and hit unsubscribe.

Send your emails too far apart, and your prospects will have forgotten who you are, the connection will be lost, and they’ll think your messages are spam, say, “No, thank you!” and hit unsubscribe.

It’s also important to have a clear intention for every email in your sequence.

They will all contain different content, but you need a coherent message running throughout, and they all need to serve a function. The primary function of your nurture sequence is the introduction to you and your brand — you want to develop the know, like, and trust factor in order to turn cold leads into warm ones.

Download the Nurture Sequence Bundle for examples of each email you should send, and details of how to space them out.

3.  Segment Your List

It’s unusual for businesses to have no variation in their customer base. Even if everyone on your list is your ideal client, you very likely have people who need and want slightly different things. Segmenting your list allows you to create bespoke nurture sequences for the particular variations of ideal clients on your list.

If you have several core services, for example, the problems those services solve may be slightly different. You may have a low-cost option and a premium option. If your clients are separated by budget, pain points, location, age, gender, or any other factor, segment your list and create a nurture sequence tailored to the exact requirements of each group in your client base.

It’s more time consuming to set up, but well worth it!

Writing Your Emails

Now it’s time for the fun part! You need everything on this list in place to make sure your sequence runs smoothly and works as well as possible. But, if you don’t absolutely nail your emails, everything else will all have been for nothing.

The Nurture Sequence Bundle will give you a jump start. Don’t forget you need to be crystal clear on the objective and function of each email before you write it.

Make sure you’re open, friendly, personable, and genuine. The voice you use to communicate your business message should be consistent in all areas of your marketing. That includes your emails.

If you’re usually very informal and witty, make sure you pack your emails with that ready charm.

And if you tend to keep things super-professional and a little formal, echo that tone throughout.

Use Stories

This is perhaps the most important things about your emails: they need to tell stories! It’s an underappreciated fact that stories are far more effective at selling than cold pitches and depersonalized arguments. When it comes to explaining value, it’s important to frame your information in a form that’s as easily digested and understood as possible. Stories are the perfect way to do this. You can explain your points in the form of an analogy, using examples from your own life and business to draw your prospect in. This is how you’re truly going to engage your audience.

This has the benefit of making your point both relatable and personable. It will go a long way towards building that crucial know, like and trust factor.

More importantly, it will make it as easy as possible for your prospect to say, “Yes, please!” when you finally ask them to buy.

Download the Nurture Sequence Bundle to get your hands on my exclusive formula to storify your nurture sequence.

Watch Your Metrics

Once you have your nurture sequence in place, don’t take it for granted. Decide ahead of time what benchmarks you will use to gauge your success and track them all carefully.

  • What are your conversion rates like at each stage in your sequence?
  • Which blog posts are generating the most signups, and how can you create more content that will have a similar effect?
  • Are your lead magnets and content upgrades as efficient as you’d like them to be?
  • What can you create that might prove even more effective?
  • Do you need to improve the quality of your copy and content?
  • What about your open and click-through rates on the emails themselves?

Your metrics are a goldmine of information on the performance of your nurture sequence. They give you all the information you need to tweak and perfect every element - use them!

Why Is It Called A Sales Funnel?

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There are a lot of terms used to describe this process, but one of the most common ones is ‘sales funnel’. I prefer to think of them as ‘nurture sequences' because that is exactly what they do - nurture - but the term funnel exists for a reason, and can be helpful in visualizing the process.

Imagine your audience passing through a giant funnel, or filtration system, starting as readers, becoming new subscribers, and finally converting into super fans.

Like a caterpillar entering a cocoon and emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

You begin with a pool of ideal clients that’s relatively large. You create exceptional content which attracts some of them, shrinking the pool slightly.

Of those interested in your content some will opt-in to one of your content upgrades, and some will opt-in to your freebie, shrinking the pool further. From there, they will enter your nurture sequence. Some will unsubscribe (totally normal!), and narrow the pool even more.

Those remaining will stay on your list and do one of two things: immediately convert into a new client (wooo!), or continue to read the amazing content you sell them (potentially converting in the future).

Start Growing Your Tribe Of Super Fans…

Now you know everything there is to know about creating a nurture sequence it’s time to get creating. Grab your copy of the Nurture Sequence Bundle and start building your own legion of dedicated super fans!